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Industrial Espionage

Intellectual Property Insights

Industrial espionage has become rather glamorous by means of the media portrayal. In real life, industrial espionage is a rather mundane way of spying on a competitor for reasons of gaining a commercial edge on the competitor. The term industrial espionage refers to spying on a national level between two or more rivalry companies. It entails gaining access to information about the intellectual properties of a competitor including strategies, client and supplier lists, new innovations, and trade secrets.

Industrial espionage is illegal, but still occurs daily. Actions can include the scanning of public records to use the information as basis for predicting the competitor’s plans, but once the search goes private, it becomes illegal. Such actions are punishable by law and can include imprisonment and financial damages to be paid. Competitors can have an insider in the other company feeding them with information about important decisions or simply forwarding information that can harm the integrity of the company should such become public.

Blackmailing is often associated with acts of industrial and commercial espionage and there have been murders committed in the process of espionage. Violence, however, is not the norm since the aim of the exercise is to get information without the competitor realising such. Should any violence occur, a company may call in forensic experts and also change access codes with immediate effect. Hacking into computers from remote locations is another form of industrial or commercial espionage. Spyware programs are installed on competitor computers which can include key logging programs, allowing for deep hacking and thus undetected spying on the rival.

Many companies are involved in some form of industrial and commercial espionage. With the globalisation of business and communication more advanced methods are now used to ensure that spying goes undetected.

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Posted on 10 May 2011
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