What Happens When Countries Disagree Over IP?

downloadWhen companies or individuals are accused of stealing from each other, lawsuits happen. When countries do it, it’s not so simple. China has been accused of stealing IP from US sources for quite some time, but to call them out on the problem puts diplomacy at risk. Nevertheless, the US is cracking down. Last week a Chinese professor was arrested upon arrival at LAX, charged with economic espionage. A Philadelphia department head was arraigned on the same charge. Sometimes, accusations of IP theft turn out to be false. America has embarrassed itself with false claims of espionage in the past.

The greater worry, according to some experts, is that America is being used as a training ground for Chinese nationals to get education and exposure to some of the best IP in the world and then losing it when they go back to work in China. Some Chinese politicians have pushed for Chinese students to come home and work in China, rather than live and work in the US after graduation.

It’s a double-edged sword. If America cracks down too hard on Chinese IP infringement, we’ll lose our reputation for openness. We freely give out a lot of IP through our higher educational system to foreign nationals. Conversely, if China plays too much on Chinese loyalty to draw students back after taking advantage of that openness, and America continues to lose ground in the fight to retain IP, America’s worries may be justified.

Do you have foreign nationals on staff and worry about how to implement proper export control practices? Contact Greenberg & Lieberman, LLC for a free consultation.

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