FBI ON THE TRAIL OF THOSE WHO STEAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
September 10, 2010
(NATIONAL) -- If you’re a thief of intellectual property rights, be looking over your shoulder because the FBI may be planning a sting operation that will net you some serious prison time.
The FBI is now playing a lead role in investigating intellectual property crimes. The agency is currently working over 400 such cases, many of a global nature.
One of the agency’s recent investigations involved the theft of confidential documents pertaining to automobile technology. Another dealt with counterfeit military and commercial airplane parts. And a third case found the FBI working jointly with Chinese authorities to identify multinational groups selling counterfeit software.
All three cases involved the theft of intellectual property, often defined as “creations of the mind”— like designs, inventions, proprietary business information, literature, music, and movies.
And intellectual property crimes are big business these days.
They can cause significant harm, financial and otherwise, to the rightful owners of the property, to the American consumer, and to the U.S. economy by robbing the nation of jobs and tax revenues.
Intellectual property crime encompasses many areas, including copyright and trademark infringement, counterfeit goods, and television signal/cable theft.
At the FBI top priorities are two-fold. First, the theft of trade secrets—which affects not only a company’s bottom line, but also American competitiveness around the world. And second, product infringements that can impact the health and safety of consumers, such as counterfeit parts for aircraft, cars, electronics, and health products.
So far in fiscal year 2010 the agency has opened 35 counterfeit health and safety investigations and 56 thefts of trade secret cases. Tye FBI has had investigative successes in both areas—for example:
Theft of trade secrets:
· A New York City computer programmer was indicted for stealing proprietary computer code from his old employer and taking it to his new job. More
· In California, three individuals pled guilty to conspiring to break the encryption algorithm developed by a satellite TV provider to protect its signal. More
Health and safety infringements:
· Two Texas men were sentenced for manufacturing and selling counterfeit pipe couplings used in oil fields. More
· The owner of a repair station certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Florida was sentenced for inspecting and testing certain aircraft parts without authorization. More
The FBI also recently joined forces with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board on “Operation Fractured Skies,” which focuses specifically on counterfeit parts in commercial and military aircraft.