Security Blog


While Snowdon Grabs Headlines, Chinese Grab $800 Million in Intellectual Property

IP Thefts Go Way Beyond Monitoring

July 3, 2013

While the French and Germans and some Americans have quickly condemned U.S. National Security Agency monitoring activity, as described by fugitive on the run Edward Snowdon, most governments know that everyone is monitoring everyone else. Whatever the final outcome of the NSA programs, it is obvious that surveillance of emails, cellular phone call numbers and Internet visits is a kind of monitoring lite.

What also is obvious is that there is growing intellectual property crimes, often committed through computer networks, and just as often committed by foreign countries, especially China.

A case in point involves the Chinese wind power company Sinovel, originally charged with intellectual property theft. In new charges, prosecutors allege that Sinovel stole trade secrets from Massachusetts-based company AMSC, which sells software and systems to control wind turbines. According to the indictment, AMSC alleged losses exceed $800 million.

The prosecution is part of efforts undertaken by the Justice Department's IP Task Force, which was recently created to safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work.

The Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property is part of a Department-wide initiative to confront the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes. It is chaired by the Deputy Attorney General.

It monitors and coordinates overall intellectual property enforcement efforts at the Department, with an increased focus on the international aspects of IP enforcement, including the links between IP crime and international organized crime.

Building on previous efforts in the Department to target intellectual property crimes, the Task Force serves as an engine of policy development to address the evolving technological and legal landscape of this area of law enforcement.

The Task Force works closely with the recently established Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, housed in the Executive Office of the President, and charged with drafting an Administration-wide strategic plan on intellectual property. As part of its mission, the Task Force will assist IPEC in recommending improvements to intellectual property enforcement efforts.

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