Saturday, April 23, 2011

Protecting Your Country While Protecting Your Clients

Think your small business customers are too small to be of interest to international spies looking to steal trade secrets and intellectual property? Think again. Corporate espionage is a real threat. Here's how you can help.

Recently I was surprised to learn how far espionage has moved from the traditional Cold War spying that focused on the Russians stealing our government secrets, to a new type of espionage designed to steal trade secrets and intellectual property. The targets aren’t all multi-national corporations, but include small businesses like the ones we service. Most of the threats come from China.

Brett Kingstone’s 80-person fiber-optic lighting company, Super Vision, was targeted by a Chinese government shell company which bribed one of Kingstone’s key employees to steal designs and process secrets. The Chinese then set up a company to duplicate Super Vision’s products and offer them at low prices, since the cost of stealing was a fraction of the cost of Super Vision’s research and development.

In his book, The Real War Against America (Specialty Publishing Company, 2005) Kingstone describes how he was challenged by his distributors when they found his company’s products being offered for much lower prices. Kingstone was confused until he was able to get samples, which matched Super Vision’s products in every way. Through a spy-thriller ordeal that included bribes, threats, shredded evidence, stolen equipment, fraudulent bankruptcy filings, an FBI investigation, and private investigators posing as Arab sheiks, Kingstone was able to get a $33.1 million civil judgment even though the culprits avoided criminal prosecution.


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