ACCORDING TO THE Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), economic espionage refers to the stealing of trade secrets or confidential information by foreign governments or companies against U.S. businesses. Trade secrets are any secretive, private, or proprietary intellectual property including formulas, patents, budget and marketing plans, customer lists, new technology developments, pricing information, or any other type of information that has some potential economic value. These secrets typically account for roughly 70 percent of a company's market value, making them a highly valuable asset and a prime target of many competitors.

The premium placed on such information represents a fundamental shift from an economy based on tangible goods to a system based on intellectual property. Illegally obtaining access to a trade secret gives foreign competitors several advantages. ...

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