Case: Corporate Espionage Damage Control
An international technology manufacturer received an anonymous tip alleging that three former employees, who went to work for a competitor, stole over a dozen highly sensitive proprietary, copyrighted software programs used by the company to optimize its manufacturing processes and gave them to their new employer. The anonymous tipster identified the former employees, provided the names of some of the stolen software manufacturing programs, and reported that they were in use by the competitor.
Investigators and intellectual property attorneys launched an investigation into the corporate espionage allegation and conducted a damage assessment of the impact on the client if the allegations proved to be accurate. The client’s manufacturing systems experts painted a dire picture of the theft’s potential damage to the client, noting that with the software, the competitor would be able to shave off five to ten years of the product development time it lagged behind the client. This would severely damage the client’s competitive advantage. The information about the reported theft was provided to the competitor’s intellectual property attorneys who launched their own internal investigation.
The client filed a lawsuit against the competitor when it learned that the competitor had been made aware of the theft and use of the client’s intellectual property in its manufacturing optimization efforts approximately one year earlier. The client prevailed in the lawsuit and was awarded a multi-million-dollar judgment. As a result of this case, the client overhauled its intellectual property protection security protocols and significantly reduced employee access to its intellectual property to preserve its competitive edge.