Protecting your crown jewels, part II: reacting to intellectual property theft Featured

10:31am EDT July 5, 2011
Protecting your crown jewels, part II: reacting to intellectual property theft

With 70 percent of the world's intellectual property within the United States, U.S.-based companies continue to dedicate extensive resources to research and development, achieving substantial value and benefit from their intellectual property.

Smart Business spoke to Ron Williams at Talon Companies about what companies can do when that valuable property is undermined by a theft.

Can businesses protect their intellectual property 100 percent of the time?

Although proactive security is the most mature and effective manner to safeguard a company's intellectual property, minimizing the likelihood that it will be stolen, the reality of risk management dictates that it is impossible to achieve a level of security that can, with 100 percent certainty, neutralize all forces seeking to successfully engage in the theft of intellectual property. As such, and in response to the theft of intellectual property through computer-based means, companies have the obligation to undertake well-orchestrated and thoughtful reactive measures to respond to the theft of intellectual property in a manner that will ensure electronic evidence is preserved and to establish a sustainable posture for internal or legal action.

Who should a company turn to in the incidence of an IP theft?

At the core of a company's response to the theft of intellectual property is the initiation of computer forensics and an enterprise investigation to identify, gather, analyze and preserve electronic evidence by experienced and certified professionals using dedicated forensic investigative tools. The discovery, collection, investigation and production of electronic information for investigating and handling computer-related crimes or misuse surrounding the theft of intellectual property is a well-defined process grounded in government and law enforcement guidelines.

What are the steps a company should take after a theft?

The following 10 high-level steps are meant to provide clarity with respect to the collection of electronic evidence:

  • Send a letter of notification to all involved parties
  • Include specifications regarding electronic evidence in the written
  • discovery request
  • IT staff should be deposed via Rule 30(b)(6)
  • Gather backup tapes
  • Gather removable media, such as CD-ROMs and zip drives
  • Question all available employees about their specific computer usage
  • Create a forensic duplication of the computer hard drive(s) in
  • question
  • Mathematically authenticate forensically duplicated data
  • Ensure the proper chain of custody is followed
  • Initiate the computer forensics efforts and enterprise investigation

Does the issue of IP theft affect all business?

All companies possess intellectual property that must be safeguarded from abuse, disclosure, theft and destruction. However, too many companies are operating with a false sense of security surrounding their ability to prevent against the theft of intellectual property, contributing to the dramatic rise in occurrence and escalation in intensity of intellectual property theft.

Proactively working to prevent intellectual property theft is a manageable undertaking and is the only way to attain a true level of trustworthiness within a corporate environment. As no company can possibly be totally proactive by predicting and neutralizing every possible risk and threat to intellectual property, defensive tactics and reactive techniques are vital to efficiently respond to the theft of intellectual property.

All predictions demonstrate that intellectual property will continue to increase in value over the next decade and, as such, intellectual property theft will remain a growing problem that companies must consider, address and react to.

Ron Williams is the CEO at Talon Companies. Reach him at (800) 808-2566 or Reach Talon Companies Headquarters at, (800) 808-2566, or

Talon Cyber Tec is dedicated exclusively to providing proactive and reactive security solutions to combat the escalating threat and reality of cyber crime, helping organizations address the critical business issues of security, privacy and compliance. Talon Cyber Tec integrates the proven and well-established principles of physical security into the realm of information security by bringing together leading human capital, information security expertise, in-depth research, and extensive real-world experience to help organizations strike a balance between business and security goals.

Talon Cyber Tec is a subsidiary of Talon Executive Services, an independent risk management firm providing full spectrum services to secure corporate assets and prevent loss due to malevolent acts.

Talon Provides MCLE Training Programs