Sunday 13 February 2011

Theft of trade secrets: pinning down a reasonable assessment of the damage

Sometimes this is what
it feels like ...
The 2010 U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Annual Report on Intellectual Property Enforcement, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, February 2011 (here) will take a little reading. One point that immediately caught the observant eye of Chris Torrero was this little paragraph:
"Over the last six months, we have heard repeated concerns about enforcement of patents and trade secrets, particularly in China. This year, DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have increased their investigations and prosecutions of corporate and state-sponsored trade secret theft. For example, in July, two defendants were indicted for stealing General Motors hybrid-vehicle technology trade secrets that caused more than $40 million of harm to GM and, in November, a defendant was convicted of stealing Ford trade secrets that caused between $50 to $100 million of harm to Ford. This focus will continue. In addition, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will lead an effort this year to thoroughly assess the patent enforcement landscape in China and recommend steps that the U.S. Government can take to improve patent enforcement there."
This weblog very much hopes that the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will share with our readers the secrets of its methodology for evaluating the quantum of harm caused by theft of trade secrets in these situations.  Some of us, well, struggle to pin a figure on these hugely valuable but amorphous assets which are generally of no value unless they can be tagged to specific products or processes in specific markets at or between specific points of time. This blogger hopes that the two agencies were relying on something more precise than the easy-to-come-by victim self-assessment figures from which we in Europe have struggled to break our dependence.

Any thoughts?

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