modern technology has facilitated a dramatic rise in economic espionage committed by private companies, criminal organizations, and national governments. Enterprises are faced with unprecedented risks associated with the pervasive infusion of technologies into virtually every corner of their operations. Today's managers are faced with a daunting array of technology-driven risks to navigate. Economic espionage, privacy, employee productivity, regulatory compliance, and systems integrity are but a few of these issues that cut across all areas of operation. These issues, if not properly handled, can have devastating consequences to an enterprise's viability. Unfortunately, far too many enterprises have failed to grasp the severity of these risks and take the necessary measures to mitigate them.
The focus on economic espionage ultimately reflects an underlying belief in the need for industrial policy on a worldwide basis. Information is a vital asset of the global economy and is vulnerable to economic espionage if not adequately protected by national laws and international agreements. Trade secret protection is becoming a common form of IPR and must receive heightened and explicit recognition in bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Despite the increasing importance of trade secrets to world economies, there is no global law on trade secrets or even a universal definition of a trade secret. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are addressed in comprehensive international legal treaties, but trade secrets are not fully included. What can be protected as a trade secret differs from country to country, and, in some nations, trade secrets have no legal standing at all.