Trade Secrets


By: Lindsey Chessum *


600px-US-DeptOfJustice-SealRecently, there has been a tirade of executive orders and government announcements concerning cyber attacks. All circling back to issues of economic stability and national security.

The concern is that cyber attacks involve theft of trade secrets. Trade secrets include client lists, business models, or product ingredients like the recipe for Coca-Cola. Theft can cost millions or billions of dollars from a single instance leading to layoffs, lost sales, office or factory closures, and even bankruptcy. Essentially businesses lose their competitive edge. The traditional method of espionage was to recruit former or current employees, but cyber attacks are an increasingly real danger.

In regards to national security, Gen. Keith Alexander, the top officer at U.S. Cyber Command, heads 13 teams with the mission of guarding the U.S. in cyberspace. He does not consider trade secret theft or espionage to be acts of war until the intent becomes to “disrupt or destroy the U.S. infrastructure.” This could involve targeting banking institutions, chemical facilities, or water treatment plants. Then a line has been crossed and national security is at stake. Continue reading »

The Rising Threat of Corporate Espionage – It’s Electric

By Lauren M. Tozzi *

Renault electric car **

Renault electric car **

In early January, Renault, the second-largest automaker in France, suspended three of its managers for allegedly selling information related to the company’s electric car program.  Corporate espionage has been on the rise in recent years, but this case is particularly shocking because the breach occurred at such a high level of corporate management.  The Independent in London reported that the stolen information was shipped to China by way of a French-based operation that specializes in economic spying.  Although Renault claims that the stolen information only pertains to the economic model for its electric car program, other sources report that the executives sold completed patents that were not yet registered.  These patents relate to the batteries and engines in new electric car models that Renault intends to release in the next few years.  Renault and its subsidiary, Nissan, have invested over five billion dollars in the development of their electric car program.  Renault has made this investment with the expectation that electric cars will account for ten percent of worldwide auto sales in the next ten years. Continue reading »

Shh!! It’s a Secret!: Coca-Cola’s Recipe Revealed?

By Tierryicah Mitchell *

Coca Cola Top SecretCan it be?  Has Coca-Cola’s original recipe actually been uncovered after remaining secret for nearly 125 years?  On the February 11 broadcast of National Public Radio’s This American Life, the producers claimed to have discovered Coca-Cola’s heavily guarded secret formula.  “I am not kidding,” host Ira Glass stated at the beginning of the show.  “One of the most famously guarded trade secrets on the planet: I have it right here and I am going to read it to you.  I am going to read it to the world.”

According to Glass, one of the best-kept secrets had been hidden in plain view since February 18, 1979.  Glass spent the first half of the program explaining how he fortuitously came across the 32-year-old edition of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, which had a picture of a page from a book of handwritten pharmacists’ recipes.  The producers explained that the photo was able to fly under the radar of the masses because no one realized that it was actually a handwritten copy of John Pemberton’s original recipe. Continue reading »