LAWFUEL – The International Law Newswire – The International Bar Ass…

LAWFUEL – The International Law Newswire – The International Bar Association (IBA) has launched a global survey on industrial espionage with the aim of gaining insight into how problematic and widespread this contemporary business practice has become. The investigation is the latest initiative of the IBA’s Criminal Law Committee following much debate on the topic in the context of recent high-profile incidents which have brought the practice into sharp focus.

The very nature of industrial espionage makes it impossible to quantify the practice. However, it is clear that information breaches are taking place and are costing companies substantial sums of money. It is a growing threat to any business whose livelihood depends on information.

Understanding the phenomenon is the essential first step to establishing mechanisms to counter the practice and minimise its effect. To this end the survey is being sent to private practitioners and in-house counsel in a wide range of jurisdictions to ascertain how corporations and law firms are dealing with this illegal practice and to what extent governments are assisting in combating it within the existing legal framework. The 50 in-house counsel at multi-national corporations and the 500 IBA Corporate Counsel Forum members receiving the survey will provide unique insight into this trend. Survey questions include amongst others,

Does your country have laws and regulations in place to combat industrial espionage?
Who in your opinion are the most active users of industrial espionage techniques?
What initiatives has your firm/company taken to counter industrial espionage?
What are the types of information or technology being targeted?
Do you think your government has invested enough resources in countering industrial espionage?

‘In today’s climate where economic competition is global, companies have the potential of becoming a victim of industrial espionage. In fact, the accelerated pace of technological developments in a global environment is making industrial espionage more of a problem for companies. Ever-increasing sophisticated tools and an array of easily obtainable gadgets are available to the prospective thief. The internet, email, USB sticks, mobile phones etc simply provide more ways to obtain a company’s information. It is no longer necessary for the assailant to carry information out of a building under his or her arm. So, grasping a fuller understanding of industrial espionage is crucial in the fight against it,’ says Charles-Henri de Pardieu, Co-Chair of the IBA Working Group on Industrial Espionage and IBA Legal Practice Division Council member.

The survey results, scheduled for release November 2007, should make interesting reading with the analysis being used to provide business executives with guidelines which they can consider in establishing priorities within their companies and minimizing the prospect and impact of industrial espionage.

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