Lawrence Ryan Investigations

Lawrence Ryan Investigations Chicago Illinois
Intellectual property law about copyright on desk

How Private Investigators Aid IP Theft Cases

Intellectual property (IP) theft has serious tangible consequences. The US has suffered economic damage exceeding 1.2 trillion dollars due to criminal copyright infringement and other actions aimed at the creation of counterfeit products or the theft of ideas.

It’s also important to point out that 50 to 80 percent of intellectual theft cases originate abroad. Chinese IP theft is the most common. While this type of Chinese practice can be difficult to trace due to its level of sophistication, there’s enough evidence to back such claims.

While dealing with intellectual theft that originates abroad can be a major challenge, skilled private investigators (PIs) can play a crucial role in the solution of such criminal proceedings. Various techniques can be employed to gather evidence and analyze espionage attempts, cyber threats, or even insider threats that can stand in the way of effective IP protection.

What Exactly Is Intellectual Property?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the term refers to any creation of the mind (including inventions, names, imagery, artistic work, designs, and others). In most countries, intellectual property is protected by law, preventing people from employing the work of others for free.

Some common forms of IP protection include patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyright protection. In the event of a breach, legal action can be undertaken by the respective intellectual property owner.

Intellectual property holds a very high value, which is why companies are committed to its protection. In many instances, businesses invest heavily in the generation of new ideas and working concepts. That is why corporations employ all means to prevent others from using and deriving value from IP.

Keep in mind that the term intellectual property also applies to digital assets. Software algorithms, software products, and digital content are protected under US copyright/IP laws.

Intellectual Property Rights Concept, Copyright Infringement

Common Reasons for Intellectual Theft

Intellectual properties are incredibly valuable assets. Their theft can lead to an unfair advantage for competitors. A Chinese firm that manufactures counterfeit products and sells them at a fraction of the original price is harming both the original IP owner and the end consumer. But let’s take a deeper look at the reasons behind IP theft that extend beyond easy financial gains and acquiring a competitive advantage over domestic firms.

  • Oftentimes, it is just easy to commit. As already mentioned, entities engaged in the theft of trade secrets are beginning to employ more advanced technology that simplifies the process of acquiring IP. At the same time, the results of IP theft are almost immediate, and the monetization potential justifies the investment in new tools.
  • Simplified product or concept development. Stealing a working idea from someone else eliminates the need to go through time-consuming and costly business processes. IP theft makes a lot of “sense” when it is used to eradicate guesswork altogether.
  • A crimeless crime. Stealing creative products or corporate assets from a major enterprise isn’t going to hurt anyone, is it? Or at least that’s how IP thieves often rationalize their actions. The logic is obviously flawed, and the financial losses connected to IP theft are massive. Still, personal gain tends to be a much bigger motivator than ethical considerations.

The Role of Private Investigators in Intellectual Property Theft Cases

Whether economic espionage is taking place or disgruntled employees have decided to seek vengeance, a private investigator can play an important role in IP protection and the quick resolution of IP theft cases.

Private investigators can offer assistance every step of the way – from the identification of weak spots to the review of an audit trail and actual security management. Here are some of the steps that PIs undergo to speed up the investigation and take it to the best possible conclusion:

  • Assessment of the situation: The process starts with an assessment of vulnerabilities that allow for the employment of tools such as backdoor accounts on corporate laptops. Criminal copyright infringement and other forms of intellectual property theft can only occur whenever opportunities for such illegal activities arise. A PI and their team will be tasked with reviewing processes and safeguards to pinpoint the missing link or malfunction contributing to higher IP theft risks.
  • Evidence gathering: This is a PI’s biggest forte. Private investigators can gather evidence through witness interviews, reviewing documentation, analyzing business processes or product specifics, doing surveillance and engaging in digital forensics.
  • Reviewing digital footprints: A vulnerable digital space creates the right conditions for IP theft. Cyber theft has been a growing reason for the loss of intellectual property. That’s why private investigators are becoming more skilled than ever before at employing digital forensics to identify the source of an attack. Cyber IP theft investigations involve extracting data from a compromised system to identify security breaches and their eventual origin.
Intellectual Property

A PI’s Role in Legal Actions

A private investigator can provide assistance once legal actions are undertaken against an IP theft perpetrator.

Private investigators work with legal counsel to build a case against a rival firm seeking unfair commercial advantage or malicious employees that have violated a confidentiality agreement. The PI will deliver evidence and pinpoint relevant data to help build a strong case for more effective law enforcement.

Legal professionals can also count on private investigators to identify the most reliable witnesses and suggest experts that can testify. Even in the aftermath of legal proceedings, a private investigator can still offer assistance. Based on the information accumulated during the investigation, a PI can outline the results of a risk assessment and suggest strategies bound to reduce the risk of intellectual property theft in the future.

Intellectual property theft investigations can be long and challenging, especially if a foreign entity or even a government is involved in such criminal activities. That’s why businesses (both large corporations and smaller intellectual property owners) are willing to employ all available resources. The experience of private investigators, their skillset and background, all contribute to quicker resolution of trademark investigations, cybercrime investigations, and other proceedings connected to breaches in intellectual property laws.

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