Economic – Competitive Advantage Adversary’s

Professionally, I have had the good fortune, since the mid-to-late 1990’s, to have been engaged in various endeavors to aid companies to mitigate their vulnerability…to the affects of (global) economic and competitive advantage adversaries.  Many of whom are quite sophisticated legacy free players whose objectives it remains, is to access and acquire targets’ key intellectual, structural, and relationship capital ala intangible assets.

Respectfully, but unfortunately, far too few businesses possess…beyond the anecdotal, sufficient operational familiarity with the predatorialy aggressive pursuits – objectives of global (state sponsored, private) business – competitor intelligence (economic espionage) operations.

The types-categories of intangible assets  (intellectual property) targeted, often develops and emerges as a company’s primary sources of value…revenue, and competitive advantage. However, when risks to the contributory role and value of these assets materialize and fall prey to compromise, misappropriation, and/or infringement from adversaries, it can quickly undermine a target company’s value, market position, revenues, competitive advantages, and future innovation capability.

Part of my work interests today remain seriously devoted to the study – unraveling of various targeting strategies and techniques applied by…economic – competitive advantage adversaries and directed specifically to sources of targets’ value, revenue, and competitive advantage producing intangible assets.  Obviously, the stakes are high in geo-political and economic contexts, i.e., state relationships, trade, and competitive advantage, etc.  The probability that the actions-initiatives of economic-competitive advantage adversaries achieve their desired outcomes-objectives makes such endeavors all-the-more strategically and competitively lucrative to engage in, and presumably worthy of most the relevant risks.

Go fast, go hard, go global, get to black…in today’s go fast, go hard,  go global, get to black market entry, business development, and transaction environment, it’s important for every business management team to recognize that arriving first in a sectors’ marketspace with the capabilities in place to exploit slight advances in technology, minor improvements in production, and/or small refinements in business processes can rapidly deliver competitive advantages and become extraordinarily lucrative. (Adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the fine work of Christopher R.J. Pace)

The motives and necessities for ever smaller, largely legacy free players…i.e., emerging countries and companies to individually mount and/or secure the services of sophisticated business intelligence collection, analysis, and brokering operations has variously become essential to competitiveness, revenues, and value.  Another dimension to such initiatives, is that they are, to be sure, more overt today and firmly embedded in countries’ GDP (gross domestic product).

The blissfully naïve and/or over-confident business leader…through my lens, the blissfully naïve and/or over-confident business leader – management team who may admit such risks exist, but assumes they can be outpaced merely by sustaining a presumptively innovative go fast, go hard, go global business model surrounded by an intangible asset intensive-dependent platform, will eventually experience  limitations, should effective intangible asset risk awareness and mitigation practices not be in place or be arbitrarily applied.

Due to the magnitude of potential loss and the persistence and probability risks executed by economic and competitive advantage adversaries globally will persist…I have consistently endeavor to bring as  much clarity as possible to the matter by describing the various manifestations, i.e., human – artificial intelligence initiated and guided business intelligence and economic espionage…

1. Private, independently operating firms which offer services variously characterized as competitor, business, economic intelligence and analysis and/or information brokering…

2. Corporate business units with mandates and expertise for (legitimately) collecting, analyzing, and developing internally accessible data bases of competitor/business sector intelligence primarily from open source materials.

3. Individuals sponsored-employed by a government unit or agency who may recruit and train individuals to coordinate business and economic intelligence services in two primary forms and/or contexts:

a. Individual (participant) is – is not fully aware of their role, expectations, and/or objectives upon deployment to targeting company or country, e.g., to be in proximity to and/or seek association with a specific researcher, R&D project, institution, and/or corporation.

b. An individual exploits a legitimate association with a specific R&D project, corporation, or institution as a platform to engage in other economic – competitive advantage intelligence collection activities.

4. Individuals who are encouraged – expected (as a matter of usually a foreign entity’s operational culture to softly collect and report their perspectives, insights, and/or findings related to business – competitor – economic intelligence matters.

5. Legacy free players engaged in (desk top) data mining and/or information brokering operations.

A distinction without a difference…I don’t think so.  Instead,  Iurge readers to not characterize this phenomena as merely distinctions without a difference. That-is-to-say, a company’s more prominent intangible assets of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital (knowledge and knowhow) in most instances, convert to (company-business) value, sources of revenue, competitive advantage, and product-service attractivity actually-comprise the foundations for conventional intellectual properties. In other words, adversaries illicitly engaged in economic and competitive intelligence (data mining) and economic espionage recognize these assets as the real targets.

Intangible assets, i.e., intellectual, structural, relationship capital are precisely…what economic – competitive advantage adversaries globally are seeking and therefore will aggressively, predatorially, and stealthily pursue because successful in acquiring those intangible assets is readily acknowledged to be the quickest route to sector competitiveness, generating new sources of revenue and value.

Issued patents provide legal standing, but that may be all…yes, it is true that an issued patent provides holders with (legal) standing to bring criminal and/or civil action against alleged infringers. And yes, a requisite World Trade Organization (WTO) membership is a reasonably strong intellectual property enforcement regime.

I respect those who have been issued a patent from their government…insofar as what they have deservedly achieved. A patent issuance certificate certainly warrants framing and hung on a wall of prominence for all to see and dutifully admire. But please, avoid making-the-assumption that an issued patent today constitutes a standalone deterrent to the persistence of would be infringers and/or economic and competitive advantage adversaries. One’s possession of the knowhow that underlies an issued-registered patent no longer serves as a deterrent, nor does it serve as an adequate safeguard to the life-value-functionality cycle of the knowledge embedded with a patent. To do so is, at best, wishful thinking, bordering on the naïve, misguided, and certainly out-of-date thinking.

Michael D. Moberly November 10, 2017 St. Louis [email protected] ‘The Business Intangible Asset Blog’ where one’s attention, intangible assets, and solutions converge!

Readers are invited to explore other blog posts, papers, and books I have published at

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