Economic Espionage = Business Thing Intangible, Not Just IP

Michael D. Moberly, Business Intangible Asset Strategist & Risk Specialist [email protected]

With frequency, we hear subject matter experts describe their perspective how particular (privately held) intellectual properties, i.e., the knowhow underlying a patent, is being targeted and/or stolen by a foreign (government sponsored) entity (usually a political, economic, national security adversary).

These descriptive scenarios, while often real, are neatly condensed to fit a simplified model of economic espionage, ala the Economic Espionage Act – 18 U.S. Code § 1831

Often accompanying such characterizations is a sense of eagerness to name a (presumed) culprit. Doing so, frequently reflects a current (national) political perspective, policy initiative, or publicized adverse event insofar as characterizing who, why, how, where, and when economic espionage occurs, and how it undermines (a.) presumed (legal) right of ownership, and (b.) the (intended) benefits – beneficiaries of research developed by intellectual properties.

Having accumulated many years of experiential research specific to these matters, there are obvious positives to examining economic espionage in open source forums. An important one, in my judgement is, when-if doing so contributes to – influences entrepreneurs, R&D administrators, and business leadership to consider,

  1. this can happen to my business, irrespective of IP, size, products, services, sector, or political ties, and
  2. the safeguards + risk mitigation applied to my knowhow, i.e., data + information I wish-to-be – designate as proprietary, is essential to (a.) achieving my desired (business) outcomes, and (b.) producing – delivering benefits to intended beneficiaries.

Presumably, naming a culprit could (eventually) produce larger potential benefits, i.e., the adverse publicity – revelations may,

  1. bring warranted – earned (global, political, public) attention to the culprit country’s legislative and enforcement bodies to pursue – deter the alleged wrongdoers. This presumes there is no governmental collusion to thwart same.
  2. prompt holders of IP and proprietary intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, ala forms of intangible assets, to (a.) not just strengthen their business/transaction due diligence, but also, (b.) put specific practices, policies, and procedures in place to reasonably ensure holders are able to…
  3. sustain control, use, ownership, and monitor the value and materiality of each of their intangible assets (in play).

Comments & perspectives are always welcome!


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