LEGAL ASPECTS OF ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE
Lecturer Ovidiu Horia MAICAN1
Economic espionage is the un lawful targeting and theft of critical economic intelligence, such as trade
secrets and intellectual property. The term refers to the clandestine acquisition or outright theft of invaluable proprietary
information in a number of areas, including technology, finance, a nd government policy. Offend ers get cheap access to
critical information, leading victims to suffer economic losses.
Keywords: economic espionage, legal rules, unlawful competition, damages.
JEL Classification: K21, K33
Whilst espionage is no longer a new occurrence, it has received remarkably little research
attention in Europe. Espionage crimes are of a combined character and embody two separate
phenomena: ‘classic’ or financial espionage by way of intelligence services of an overseas state, and
incidents of aggressive company or industrial espionage, industrial spying or industrial theft2.
Both phenomena are characterised by actually equal modi operandi, the aim of unlawful
obtainment of knowhow and other information as nicely as the mostly same targets or victims in
shape of the proprietors of know‐how and/or intellectual property such as enterprise and alternate
The latter may additionally stem both from the economy or science. In substance, the
distinction between monetary and industrial espionage is solely the exceptional motivation – in
accomplishing either a political or a financial advantage. Both types of espionage are located at the
intersection of conventional (physical) crime and cybercrime3.
2. Theoretical aspects
The fundamental grasp of these crimes, their legal framework as properly as the organisational
diagram of administrative competences and jurisdictions is nonetheless generally shaped through the
Cold War period. Legal modernisations have now not stored tempo with the changing political
Former political frontlines were dissolved and in some instances replaced by using economic
cooperation. At the identical time, new friend‐foe patterns evolved along the fluid lines of
contemporaneous political interests.
While attacks on monetary know‐how originating from some regions are still persecuted as
state crime, delinquents originating from pleasant international locations are termed to be ‘friendly
spies’ and only hesitatingly prosecuted – if at all.4
In light of the ongoing trends in the European political arena, an un‐reflected classification of
these phenomena as state crime (in Germany punishable beneath § ninety-nine of the German
Criminal Code) is increasingly more much less compelling5.
A survey of 325 U.S. - based corporations by the American Society for Industrial Security
(ASIS) published that between 1992 and 1995, breaches of company protection climbed by means of
323% and those have been simply the said breaches-corporate victims are regularly silent about
successful raids in opposition to their intellectual property. Considering undetected and unreported
1 Ovidiu Horia Maican – Department of Law, Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Romania, firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Carl S ., An unacknowledged crisis – economic and industrial espionage in Europe, Essays in Honour of Nestor Courakis Ant. N.
Sakkoulas Publications L.P. 2017, p. 2.