Official blog of Swansea University's IISTL, where we keep you up to date with the latest maritime and commercial legal news.
Tinker, tailor, online spy
Corporate/industrial espionage has been a fact of business life since time immemorial, but as Adam Bernstein notes in his latest article for The Company Secretary’s Review ,”It’s just that modern technology has made the process so much simpler…[and]…firms that don’t understand what’s at risk are playing with fire.”
By its very nature corporate/industrial espionage, along with corporate spying, can be hard to define but typically involves the illegal or unethical use of trade secrets to achieve commercial advantage. Be it hard or otherwise to define cyber espionage is with us and an ever-growing threat. Ian Bremmer of Time Magazine has recently warned, “Among the world’s most powerful countries, each government knows that an attack on the critical infrastructure of another invites retaliation…[which is]…why most of the action in cyberspace among cyber sophisticated nations is focused on stealing secrets and intellectual property.”
In addition to attacks on intellectual property, corporate/industrial espionage targets more general aspects of online activity. Unethical reviews, be they fake negative reviews about a rivals products or fake positive reviews to establish an undeserved market position, are an obvious example. Less obvious would be utilising negative search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics to impact adversely on a competitors search engine rankings, the illegality of which is open to question. Indeed, firms looking to protect themselves by countering such threats can, without prior recourse to professional advice, make matters worse for themselves by inadvertently generating even more adverse negative publicity.
In summary Bernstein concludes,”Competition is natural, but all firms of all sizes need to be on their guard for abuse. They shouldn’t be misled into thinking that espionage is all highbrow and involves spying that 007 would be proud of…”. The world of spying today has a much more anonymous face.
Previously our Acting Head of College Andrew joined us in 2004 as the Director of IP Wales®, our £4m award winning business support initiative.
Originally the Head of Swansea Law School (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) Andrew became the Director of the Swansea Intellectual Property Rights Initiative in 1999. In recognition of its support for Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) use of the IP system the Swansea IPR Initiative became the Winner of the Wales one-2-one Best 4 Business Award in 2000. Andrew was responsible for designing and launching IP Wales® in 2002. IP Wales® was the recipient of the Judges Special Prize at the WORLDLeaders European Awards in 2004. Under Andrew’s leadership over 800 businesses have been assisted to make informed commercial choices about their IP assets helping them to capture and protect over 220 patents, 70 trade marks and 10 design registrations around the World. Support was furnished to over 25 licensing deals (licensing-in & licensing-out) facilitating the commercial use of intangible assets by integrating an intellectual assets (IAs) strategy within the overall business plan.
In recognition of his success in raising levels of awareness and understanding of IP amongst the SME community in Wales Andrew was seconded from 2008-9 to work for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Whilst at WIPO Andrew co-organised and presented at the ‘WIPO Forum on Intellectual Property & SMEs for IP Offices of OECD and EU Enlargement Countries’ (2008) in Cardiff, one of the few occasions this prestigious event has been hosted outside Geneva. Andrew achieved National recognition for ‘services to intellectual property and business in Wales’ with the award of an OBE by the Queen under her Birthday Honours List 2009. International speaking invitations have included presenting to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the European Commission and the European Patent Office.
Andrew remains as the Director of IP Wales® and was responsible for the validation of our new LLM programme in Intellectual Property and Commercial Practice. Andrew is the module leader for International Intellectual Property Law, the Law of Intellectual Assets Management & Transactions and also lectures 'Oily IP' on our new LLM in Oil & Gas.
View all posts by Associate Professor Andrew Beale OBE