Theft Of Intellectual Property








What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which property rights are recognised—and the corresponding fields of law. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets.

The Problem

Information Communication Technology (ICT) is a term that not many people would have been familiar with 20 years ago.

In the past offices were full of grey four-drawer filing cabinets. We employed filing clerks and typists. We bought box after box of carbon paper. And all of the information that we considered valuable or commercially sensitive was locked up in the safe in the boardroom behind the picture of the Chairman.

Fast forward two decades and it’s a different story. Almost all commercial information is now stored electronically on computer systems and can be instantly accessed by authorised staff. The trouble is, that it’s much harder to keep it under ‘lock and key’ and prevent unauthorised staff gaining access.

Information-thieves don’t even have to leave their desk, let alone snoop around in the boardroom.

A recent survey commissioned by the ibas Group ( revealed that 69.6% of business professionals have stolen some form of corporate intellectual property (IP) from their employer when leaving a job.

The information stolen may not necessarily be top corporate secrets, but it certainly represents the investment of numerous hours of hard work to create and maintain. To give that hard work to a competitor is no different to giving away our most valuable company assets.

Technology has also enhanced the ease at which such data can be copied and removed from its owner’s premises. USB storage devices remain the popular choice of data thieves, storing up to 5,000 times more than a floppy disk. These devices are small enough to appear on key rings and have been made to appear as credit cards, pens and even a fully functional wristwatch.

The combination of the increase in value and the increase in opportunity has made commercial information an attractive commodity that is illicitly traded.

The most common cases are the “theft” of customer information - whether in a database or even as an email address book. This information amounts to the lifeblood of a company and can make the difference between corporate survival and unemployment. Over 54% of respondents to ibas’ survey said that they had taken an email address book and/or a contact database with them when they left their previous employer.

How do you protect yourself from IP theft?

  • IP Compliance Policy

    The main action companies can take is to ensure they have clear staff policies in place preventing infringement of intellectual property along the lines of Health and Safety and Environmental Policies, as well as a disciplinary process and a will to enforce it should the policy be abused.

    This is simple, clear and means companies do not have to place undue restrictions on their staff over photocopying, Internet use and email. Instead, what is being encouraged is proper, legal use of these facilities.

    A clear IP compliance policy will help to raise awareness within the business of the value of IP as well as dealing with problems such as viruses, spyware, malware, peer-to-peer software and other network security issues. By teaching staff to respect the intellectual property of others, it helps them to understand the importance of your own company’s IP. Companies need to also ensure only legitimate, licensed traders are allowed on to work premises.

    KJB Computer Forensics Consultancy can offer advice on compiling an Intellectual Property Compliance Policy or simply check whether existing policies and procedures are sufficient to protect your company assets.

  • Regular Checks to ensure Systems are not running illegal or unlicensed content and employee(s) are complying with your IP Compliance policy.

This is where we come in - KJB Computer Forensics Consultancy offers a proactive or reactive ICT/IP Health-Check service (Read More...). We are able to offer you a proactive check of your computer network to ensure that individuals are not running illegal software and that there is no evidence of theft of company information.

In cases where you suspect an employee has or is stealing your Intellectual Property, we can advise on how to deal with it. Typically we would secure your network and data and thereafter conduct a full investigation to establish what information has been removed and where it has gone.

Please feel free to contact us if you require further information, we look forward to working with you in the not too distant future.