What is economic espionage?

by | Nov 17, 2015 | Federal Crimes

When you think of espionage, you probably think of James Bond and of spies working on the behalf of their countries to find out about other countries’ weapons and military programs. However, it’s important to note that espionage can happen in the business world as well, and it’s known as economic espionage.

The basic idea behind economic espionage is that a person will come to a company with the sole purpose of stealing protected and perhaps patented information. Often, this happens when companies outside of the United States want to copy the products that that are being made and developed within the U.S.

After all, no country spends more money on research and development than the U.S. Rather than spending millions of dollars doing years of research, other companies may figure it is faster and easier to just steal that information. This also gets their products onto the market faster. If they can undercut the U.S. prices, it can cost the U.S. companies millions or even billions of dollars.

It is possible for this to happen accidentally, though. For example, a person who is employed in the U.S. as a consultant could be given information without realizing that it is secret or protected. The person could then decide to return home when his or her contract expires, get hired by a local company to do similar work and accidentally use the protected information for that company—just thinking of the information as common knowledge and not realizing that those business secrets weren’t ever meant to be shared.

As such, anyone accused of these types of crimes in Pennsylvania has a right to a fair trial.

Source: The Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Economic Espionage: FBI Launches Nationwide Awareness Campaign,” accessed Nov. 17, 2015