Linda Coniglio, Director of Privacy & Information Governance
The U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and the greatest producer of intellectual property according to the National Crime Prevention Council. American organizations, artists, and entrepreneurs produce consumer goods, entertainment, business systems, health care and, software products, to name a few, that are the envy of the world. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Intellectual Property Center has calculated that the worth of intellectual property in the U.S. to be between $5 trillion and $5.5 trillion.
However, the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimates that annual costs from IP losses range from $225 billion to $600 billion. According to one estimate, 750,000 jobs are lost every year to counterfeiting and piracy. These losses are markedly different than those occurring from stolen or damaged goods. While stolen or damaged good can be replaced by insurance, intellectual property cannot be restored once it is stolen. Stolen IP affects an organization’s revenue and drives down its prices as it attempts to compete with unethical competitors who hijacked its differentiators.
For decades now, China’s intellectual property theft has made news headlines. In fact, one in five North American-based corporations on the CNBC Global CFO Council reported that Chinese companies have stolen their intellectual property within the last year. This trend motivated the inclusion of a bipartisan bill – “Protecting American Intellectual Property Act” – within the Banking Committee’s “Meeting the China Challenge Act of 2021”. The goal of this act is to spell out clear consequences for theft of U.S. intellectual property. It will require a report to Congress every six months identifying any individual or firm that has engaged in or benefitted from serial theft of U.S. trade secrets, and whether this could be construed as a threat to national security, foreign policy, the economy and/or financial stability of the nation. The Act gives the President the power to impose sanctions and prohibit a bad actor’s entry into the U.S.
Legislation and crippling sanctions may be one way to deter IP theft. However, there are measures organizations can take right now to reduce IP theft risk including:
- Strengthening cybersecurity
- Limiting information access to individuals who need it
- Utilizing data loss prevention software
- Inventory and tracking of intellectual property
- Carefully vetting job candidates
Not all IP thieves sympathize with foreign entities. They steal inventions, trademarks, patents, or copyright property for their own gain, and you may not know it until after they leave. Besides robust legislation, practices like custom asset tags could reduce the incidence of theft of high-tech company prototypes. For non-physical assets, it becomes critical to analyze every departing employee’s computer for suspicious activity. This analysis should include:
- Evidence of covering tracks
- User activity
- Data exfiltration
To beat the competition and achieve success, organizations rely on their intellectual property. Is your organization doing enough to prioritize its data protection needs and mitigate risk? To protect organizations and their IP, Innovative Discovery has developed AnalyzID – an intellectual property theft detection kit. AnalyzID will expose departing employees’ suspicious activity and identify potential security threats to help protect your organization’s intellectual property.
Learn more about ID’s proprietary IP theft analysis tool, AnalyzID.