Reading Time: 4 minutes

What-is-IP-Theft

After years of research and development, businesses come up with original ideas to grow in the industry and have a competitive edge. These ideas help businesses grow and stand out in the industry among thousands of competitors. But as the competition grows, the risks of IP theft in Canada has grow nowadays.

Intellectual property is assets or ideas that are protected through liceses, copyrights, and legal documentation. In this blog, we will look at what Intellectual Property (IP) theft really is and its real-world examples and in Canada. We will also look at some of the best practices to protect IPs in Canada.

What Is IP Theft in Canada?

Intellectual Property theft is the act of robbing companies and organizations of their products, ideas, and other types of intellectual properties. IP theft leads to loss of competitive edge, decrease in business growth, and reputational damage as well.

Intellectual property theft may result in losses amounting to millions across the organization. According to a report by the Theft of American Intellectual Property Commission, the annual cost of IP losses in the US is around $225 billion – $600 billion.

In the case of cybersecurity breaches, malicious actors can steal important data and information, leading to legal and compliance issues for organizations. It is because sensitive data of partners, employees, and customers get stolen.

Examples of IP Theft in Canada

IP theft can result in severe economic losses for organizations and businesses in Canada. There are various practices used around the world to steal critical assets. Some common scenarios and examples include the following:

1. Human Error

This is a common example of the theft of intellectual property rights. Your employees can lose a work device like a computer that has company data on it. In the wrong hands, the files can leak secret data outside the business network in Canada. If data is shared with unauthorized parties, theft of intellectual property can occur in Canada.

Back in 2017, an engineer from Apple brought his daughter to work, during which she took footage of an unreleased iPhone X model. Brooke posted a vlog on YouTube that showed unreleased iPhone X, QR codes of special employees, and other unreleased Apple products.

The video was picked up by various blogs and spread even further. The engineer was fired as a result of the leak.

We saw similar results in the past when the son of a Microsoft employee posted pictures of Xbox 360 before it was released.

2. Hacking

Another common tactic used for theft of intellectual property is hacking, spear-phishing, and other techniques. They are used to inject malware into company networks and steal volumes of confidential information and RnD research, and IPs in Canada.

One example is of APT 10 group targeting US government agencies and tech companies for stealing data. The Advanced Persistent Threat 10 group has stolen developing technologies and confidential information in the past. This leads to patent infringement and counterfeit goods. APT 10 is a leading China IP theft group, that has been active for a few years now.

According to the Commission report, China is a top source of counterfeit goods across the world.

source-economies-of-counterfeit-goods

(Image: IP Commission Report, USA)

3. Access Exploitation

By exploiting access to company information, some employees steal trade secrets and sensitive files and share them with competitors.

In 2018, a scientist of GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to stealing company information and secrets to benefit Renopharma, a Chinese pharmaceutical company. The scientists with his friend created Renopharma in China that ran on GSK company secrets and stolen information.

Companies like Google and Tesla have also been victims to privilege abuse. Google’s former employee, Anthony Levandowski, was charged with theft as he downloaded more than 14,000 files containing sensitive information about Google’s vehicle research.

Intellectual Property Theft Prevention Best Practices in Canada

Companies can take preventive measures to protect their sensitive data from theft. Let’s explore some of the best practices for securing IPs and preventing theft.

1. Identify most valuable information and company data in Canada

To protect your intellectual property, the most important step is to identify your most valuable information and data in Canada. You should identify where your data is stored and who has access to it in Canada. Identifying your intellectual property is essential for protecting it.

Make sure your employees understand the company’s intellectual property and how to handle it in Canada. When you are identifying intellectual property, pay attention to both digital and physical assets, such as:

  • Cloud apps and documents
  • Corporate servers and storage devices
  • Personal devices of employees
  • Third-party services and systems
  • Office printers, scanners, and copiers

2. Identify user access to information in Canada

Review your company’s access to sensitive information and data to reduce the risk of security breaches and access exploitation in Canada. Make sure to limit user access to sensitive company data and resources. Employees should only have access to data that is required for their work. By doing so, you can avoid the following:

  • Access misuse
  • Excessing access privileges
  • Data misplacement and account configuration

Make sure your data access policies are updated regularly. If an employee switches departments, make sure he doesn’t have access to IPs anymore; that is no use to him. If that employee still has access to critical information, it will lead to an insider threat risk.

3. Identify cybersecurity gaps in Canada

Apart from identifying user access in Canada, companies need to identify cybersecurity gaps in their systems. Put yourself in the attacker’s shows and identify areas where they might attack and secure those places first.

To identify weak spots, you can conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment. It will help you determine critical information that could be compromised in case of a potential cyberattack. Apart from intellectual property, it would be best if you also secured your company network, devices, and hardware to protect employees, customers, and other important data in Canada.

4. Educate employees and monitor activity in Canada

Since human error can threaten your intellectual property, make sure to educate them about cybersecurity practices to prevent accidental data leaks in Canada. Cybersecurity awareness among employees is essential for IT companies and companies as the world has shifted to remote work. To do that, make sure to:

  • Hold regular cybersecurity training and workshops for employees
  • Keep your employees updated about the latest cybersecurity updates
  • Give your employees cybersecurity-related materials, PDF, etc.

With education, it is essential to monitor employee activity and make sure they are following cybersecurity practices and no company data is at risk. This way, you can prevent data breaches and malware downloads accidentally.

5. Establish cybersecurity policies to prevent IP theft in Canada

A strong cybersecurity policy can ensure the protection of the company’s assets and intellectual property. These policies underline a set of rules that people have to follow to prevent risks in Canada. Instead of reactive policies, most IT companies have proactive cybersecurity practices in place.

To make sure you have an efficient policy, make sure to cover the following pointers:

  • Introduce clear rules on privacy settings and protection of online accounts.
  • Password management.
  • Policies regarding accessing company information on personal devices.
  • Policies regarding downloading files and apps on devices.
  • Use of tools like VPNs, firewalls, anti-virus software, and more security tools.

IP Theft in Canada – FAQ

Yes, the theft of intellectual property is a crime in Canada. It is either a civil crime or a criminal crime. The criminal can be sent to jail for stealing intellectual property and may also incur a hefty fine.

Yes, if you have legal protection in Canada, you can sue someone for stealing your IP and get money damages in Canada. Intellectual property theft occurs when someone steals your IP and uses it without your permission. There are various laws that protect intellectual property like copyright, patents, and trademarks.

An intellectual property right in Canada entitles a person or a company with exclusiveness for their idea or an invention which they wish to protect for a specific period of time.

Conclusion

IP theft in Canada is quite common these days due to the digitalization of businesses. Cybercriminals pose a serious threat to companies as they can target intellectual property and monetize it. In this digital world, there are a lot of opportunities to steal trade secrets, copyrights, and patents and sell them to competitors.

However, by following the practices mentioned above, you can still protect your intellectual property and other sensitive data from theft.