Compromises to intellectual property can damage an organization by having its intellectual property stolen. A company should never underestimate what the value of their secrets are worth, as well as their customer lists and product plans. Crimes are committed by companies for different reasons, such as to benefit another entity, start a competing firm, for personal financial gain, or to have a competitive business advantage. It's important to understand the particular methods that insiders use to steal this valuable information. Organizations can identify ways to protect their intellectual property and find holes in their network implementation.

Overview of Intellectual Property

Technical conversations of intellectual property are useful for operational staff to know how someone on the inside can compromise the organization. Companies should always aim to understand how human behavior works with these insider crimes. The lifeblood of every organization is intellectual property where it didn't use to be. This is now a target used by different forms of cyber attacks. Many people in Hollywood have been hacked, including the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" and the HBO show "Game of Thrones."

A company's intellectual property might be more valuable than its physical assets, whether that's trade secrets, employee know-how, or patents. Security professionals are in charge of understanding the people getting the company's information and putting it together in a helpful way. Some people who try to gather this information are under the disguise of competitive intelligence researchers, while others are spies that competitors hire. They may stop at nothing, including thievery, bribes, or even putting a tape recorder in the CEO's office chair.

Intellectual property protection is a tough job that requires human resources, legal, and the IT department. A risk committee or chief security officer is often in charge of putting together intellectual property protection efforts. Since cyber attacks happen so often, the chief information security office plays a large role in protecting the company.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property can be anything from plans for a product launch to a certain manufacturing process. It can even be the list of countries where the company's patents are in. This should be thought of as intangible proprietary information. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the official definition is creations of the mind. This can be the following:

  • Artistic and literary works
  • Names
  • Designs
  • Images
  • Inventions
  • Symbols

There are two categories that intellectual property are divided into - industrial property and copyright. Industrial property includes patents for trademarks, geographical indications, inventions, and industrial designs. Copyright includes literary works like poems, novels, plays, website pages, artistic and musical works, photographs, sculptures, and paintings.

The rights that are related to copyright include those of producers in their recordings, artists during their performances, and broadcasters in television and radio programs. For companies, such as those in the pharmaceutical business, intellectual property is more valuable than a physical asset. According to the Theft of Intellectual Property Commission, theft of these costs companies in the United States over $600 billion a year. Theft can be prosecuted for stealing patents that have the legal right to prevent anyone from marketing or manufacturing the unique items.

Patents can also be registered in other countries so competitors won't find out what the company is doing. Once the business has a patent, other businesses can apply to license the product. Patents are good for up to 20 years. Trademarks are phrases, symbols, names, or sounds associated with the products or services. They usually connect the brand with a certain level of quality that they then build a reputation on. Trademark protection is good for 10 years from the registration date and can be renewed in perpetuity.

A copyright protects artistic and written expressions that are in a tangible medium, such as poems, movies, and songs. The expression of an idea is protected, but not the actual idea. The owner can reproduce their work, make derivatives from it, and perform or display the work to the general public. It's not necessary to register the material in order to have a copyright, but someone cannot be sued for copyright infringement without registering it.

If you need help with compromises to intellectual property, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.