What is IP theft, why it matters? Brief USA Guide with examples!

Intellectual property (IP) theft is a serious offense that costs businesses millions of dollars each year. It might also include the theft of creative ideas, designs, and discoveries. In this short article, we’ll define what is IP theft and provide a few examples from the United States. We hope that understanding the newest developments in IP protection will assist you in protecting your company’s intellectual property! for more details on IP addresses read our guide on how to find your IP address.

What is Intellectual Property Theft?

One example is the theft of an idea, creative expression, or invention from a person or company. IP theft refers to the illegal acquisition of any type of intellectual property. The company’s trademarks, logos, symbols, inventions, client lists, and other material are all fair game for unauthorized use.

A sophisticated cybercrime such as a data breach, or an attempted theft of sensitive information, can have far-reaching consequences for institutions and result in substantial thrashings. The commission’s report says that IP theft costs the United States anywhere from $200 to $590 plus billion each year.

 Furthermore, if a cybersecurity violation permits bad actors to loot information, the company may be subject to regulatory and legal problems since other critical data of consumers, workers, and partners might be affected. As a result, firms that have had breaches will be less inclined to devote further time and resources to growth and success owing to the time and money they are spending on lawsuits.

Why does intellectual property matter and how to protect it?

Probably the most important reason for devoting time and money to the intellectual property system is that IP protection turns innovative ideas, creative designs, and other intangible assets into valuable business assets that may contribute significantly to enhancing a company’s overall position in the market.

Common Intellectual Property Theft Scenarios

Stealing may allow thieves to produce things more quickly and inexpensively than if they created them from the ground up. Because they can steal or buy existing ideas and inventions, thieves may be able to generate items more quickly and cheaply than if they developed them from scratch. IP theft may put companies that supported unique concepts in competition with forgeries of their own

 Let’s consider three typical instances of intellectual property stealing:


Because of its easy accessibility, cybercriminals may harvest exposed data and valuable intellectual property from businesses using a variety of phishing tactics. Malware penetration, including by state-sponsored assaulters, enables a significant amount of IP theft.

 Keyloggers are one example of this; these are programs that capture data as people input it into a system. They might also install malware on a browser to consider and record everything the user documents or notices on a website or within an application. Cross-site scripting episodes and inserting harmful objects into web pages are two more methods for obtaining IP data.

In 2020, hackers used spyware to pilfer the COVID-19 vaccine IP. In these incidents, one vaccine manufacturer, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, had to shut down several facilities.

 An example of IP theft shattered the American Superconductor Corporation’s (AMSC) $1 billion market capitalization. In 2011, the firm’s trade secrets were stolen by cybercriminals, who were fined only in 2018.

Human Error

Not all data breaches caused by employees are the result of malicious intent. Employees make avoidable errors frequently due to neglect, absence of cybersecurity attention, or tiredness. It may also expose different sorts of sensitive data after a data breach occurs, including IP.

 Workers can inadvertently disclose critical data by:

  • Accidentally transmitting an email with IP data to the incorrect recipient is an extremely severe problem.
  • Customers who click on phishing links that direct to malware/spyware installation
  • Information is being transmitted to private email accounts by way of a relay.
  • Finish work at home by handling susceptible information from the office in an external storage device.
  • Unsecure services and messengers are used to share IP documentation data, potentially exposing sensitive information.
  • Setting broad entrance requests for cloud-based records with exposed data.
  • When creating passwords, visiting corporate networks, or any other action that involves an organization’s cybersecurity policies, 

Unexpected information breaches are still an issue. A study discovered that 83% of security experts think workers have put customers and company secrets at threat of disclosure via mistakes.

Access Exploitation

Employees and subcontractors may use their access to a company’s critical data and intellectual property to steal it sell it to rivals or start their firms. The higher the amount of user access rights, the greater the chance of IP theft. As a result, you must keep a watch on privileged users and third parties at all times.

If this is the case, companies will likely hire outside firms to audit their networks and look for signs of data breaches or data theft. Some former employees may still have access to corporate networks, or they may have created backdoors before departing a firm, or they might have stolen data before quitting.

Google has also been a target of privilege abuse. Anthony Levandowski, one of their former workers, was indicted on counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets by the Lattice acquisition heist. Before quitting his job, Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 documents containing critical information on Google’s autonomous vehicle research.

Tesla had numerous lawsuits with their previous workers after one of its most well-known examples of intellectual property theft. Other charges included transferring files connected to Tesla’s Warp Drive software to a worker’s personal Dropbox account and giving sensitive information to a reporter.

Best practices to prevent Intellectual Property Theft

Sensitive data is the most important asset for every manufacturing business. Manufacturers not only face significant fines and penalties if their confidential information, particularly intellectual property (IP), is ever lost or stolen, but they also risk damaging their reputations and public trust. They may also risk jeopardizing their competitive advantage, which might result in company failure and bankruptcy.

As we’ve seen in recent high-profile data breaches of major merchants and government agencies, hackers are becoming more skilled and tenacious than ever. According to a recent study produced by Kroll, physical theft or IP loss was by far the most common type of security incident that businesses were aware of. In the year prior, 45 percent of executives from a business in the manufacturing sector reported that their organization had been a victim of IP theft or loss.

Always keep your system up to date

This is common advice that security experts offer, and for good reason. Updates are essential for optimal functioning, and they also include vital security updates that fix flaws. Automate as many of your processes as possible to make the process smoother and more efficient, ensuring that you (and your employees) are always up to date. Unpatched machines pose a significant risk to a firm’s security posture, and companies should do everything possible to avoid them.

Identify Your IP

Everyone in a company may contribute to IP protection if they comprehend what ought to be shielded and from whom. Ensure that corporate leadership communicates with departments like HR, marketing, product, sales, legal, and R&D regularly to safeguard IP adequately.

Locate your IP

You can’t protect your IP if you don’t know where it’s located. You’ll have to put in place appropriate regulations and routines if you don’t know where your IP lives. Further core IT systems and processes, such as copiers, printers, scanners, and fax machines, look for hidden device vulnerabilities. IP is frequently found in web apps and file-sharing systems, as will be personal computers of workers. Finally, remember that IP is frequently shared with partners, suppliers, and customers via third-party systems.

Conduct a Risk and Cost-Benefit Analysis

To assess the extent of the damage, list out all of your organization’s assets and risk factors to determine which IP loss would do the most harm and which assets are most vulnerable to being stolen. When a business considers both of these elements, it is possible to rank its intellectual property and determine where to devote its defensive resources and money.

Label your valuable assets

Placing a banner or label on any data that is secret or copyrighted may appear to be straightforward, but it’s essential. If a company goes to court seeking to demonstrate IP theft, for example, they’ll require to reveal that they created it is obvious that the information in question was identified as such.

Educate Employees

Humans even well-meaning ones are frequently the most vulnerable link in any security system. Educate all personnel so they fully understand how to disclose IP, even unintentionally. Make sure they know about the risks of IP breaches caused by third-party email platforms, file-sharing systems, teamwork tools like Dropbox, Google Docs, or other cloud-based services such as S3 buckets and chat applications.

Check the security gaps

Considering like an aggressor is often the most effective way to safeguard IP, since it may reveal previously hidden or unanticipated security vulnerabilities. After adopting the perspective of a hacker, for example, it may be found that more protection is required for components like phone contacts, waste containers, conference room phones, or televisions (or even physical) office doors.

What causes IP theft?

It’s easy, quick, cheap to commit, and extremely profitable to steal intellectual property. The practice of stealing someone else’s ideas, products, and labor is sometimes excused as a victimless crime in which people profit by duplicating anything.

Frequently asked questions

To steal intellectual property, a thief only needs to replicate someone else’s work, concept, or product. The perpetrator may not always tell the victim.

You run the danger of losing your IP rights if you don’t take adequate or appropriate measures to safeguard and enforce them. It’s difficult to know what constitutes an acceptable and reasonable response; it depends on the circumstances.

However, if a hacker knows your IP address, they may use it to steal critical information such as your location and online identity. If you have any personal information on your device, you must safeguard it. They may potentially hack your gadget, steal your identity, and more if they have this knowledge.


Corporations are frequently the target of cybercriminals and unscrupulous workers because the intellectual property may be readily monetized. They have plenty of chances to steal trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and trademarks in the digital world and sell them to rivals without being detected. However, this does not mean that you can’t secure your intellectual property and other critical information.

We hope that the strategies outlined in this article will assist you in improving your cybersecurity posture and reducing IP data theft.