Thursday, May 24, 2007, 5/24/2007 03:03:00 PM

South Korean Editorial on Threat to South Korean Economy From Trade Secrets Theft

By Todd
Arguing that industrial espionage is a major threat to the future of the South Korean economy and an act that is tantamount to treason, an editorial in yesterday's Korea Daily opines that two recent cases of trade secret theft call for national action thus:

"The two technology thefts were not isolated cases. Instead, industrial espionage has expanded to such an extent that it is now perceived by many to pose a threat not only to the security of the corporations involved, but to the entire nation. That is the reason why the theft of trade secrets for sale to foreign countries should be treated as an act little short of treason. According to a report from the National Intelligence Service, the number of successful and foiled attempts to sell stolen technologies to foreign business concerns rose from 39 in 1999 to 237 last year. The damage from industrial espionage could be much larger than the numbers suggest, given the suspicion that so many trade secrets are covertly sold to foreign business concerns. Nonetheless, the criminals involved are treated with kid gloves. In 2005, trial courts convicted 104 of the 130 people indicted. But only 11 were actually sent to prison. Reasons for leniency ranged from not being repeat offenders to benefits having not been realized. But would the judges have been as merciful if it had dawned on them that the crimes were little different from acts of treason? But a severe punishment alone will not be enough to solve the problem of industrial espionage. Rewarding researchers adequately for their contributions will surely help cut down on the theft of trade secrets. But the ultimate responsibility lies with the corporations involved, that will have go the extra mile to protect their secrets."

We have tracked on this blog numerous editorials and opinion pieces that suggest that trade secret protection is taking on almost a form of economic nationalism where countries are indicating concern that other countries are stealing their national momentum in the form of business advances. We will continue to track this vein in the literature and report it as we see it.

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