Thought Apple was the only company that had its precious intellectual property compromised by competitors like Samsung? Think again.
According to Automotive News, industrial espionage in the United States has been steadily rising in multiple sectors. In fact, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) have opened 1,212 intellectual property rights cases for the 2011 fiscal year. Compared to 2009, cases have increased by nearly 66 percent. Given the high-octane environment that is the auto industry, cloak and dagger activities are especially prevalent. In particular, auto giants including GM, Ford and Toyota have endured stolen intellectual property more than most.
Last month, an IT contractor for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. was accused of hacking into the company's database, taking ahold of extremely sensitive trade secrets.What's more, GM and Ford were victims of theft from their own employees as well when internal information found its way to foreign competitors.
Expressing the severity of the rising threat and the challenging conditions, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said during a Michigan keynote, "A well-placed rogue employee can capture a company's highly protected crown jewels, things on which profits and jobs depend on."
Highlighting a rather high-profile incident of espionage, Assistant U.S. attorney Cathleen Corken brought attention to a case regarding a Ford employee that has stolen thousands of secrets in order to secure a job with another competitor.