Tea Party minded Americans care about intellectual property and free markets. We get angry when some foreign government or company steals property created by Americans and then use the stolen property for profit.
It is very difficult to prosecute intellectual property theft when the theft happens abroad, because it is nearly impossible to get some nations, like China and Russia, to crack down on the theft. There is a case right now that exposes the difficulty in protecting IP from foreign based wrong doers.
“We’re not going to take it anymore” is a famous line from a song by the band Twisted Sister. The international community would like to hear that phrase directed at the company known as Xceligent. Xceligent, a U.S. subsidiary owned by a British holding company, has been accused of stealing intellectual property (IP) on a massive scale from the American real estate company Costar. There are allegations that more than 10,000 instances of copyrighted material from Costar has appeared on Xceligent’s website.
IP theft is an issue that stagnates economic growth in the United States and leads to more violations of the rule of law. Usually China is the rogue nation that commits IP theft. On a personal note the author of this column has had a book pirated by the Chinese and many American companies have been victimized by the Chinese cloning of American made goods.
The issue of IP theft was forefront in America’s most recent election. Allegations of foreign governments cheating on trade deals helped launch Donald J. Trump into the presidency, because American voters understand that the United States plays by rules that many other nations ignore.
In this past election, there was a high-profile theft of data from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) exposing the voter information or many Americans. The proof in that DNC case has been slow to be produced, yet the evidence pointing towards Xceligent is much stronger and damning. The Xceligent activity which left behind an electronic trail of breadcrumbs is incriminating. If this evidence is proven to be true, this criminal act needs to be punished by the Trump administration immediately to show that this administration will fight to protect intellectual property.
No longer is America vulnerable from the perceived high profile enemies such as Russia, and China or non-state actors. Just this week the credit firm Equifax was hacked and millions of American’s personal data taken. The alleged theft by foreign-owned Xceligent had immediate implications against an American company.
According to NBC News, the company CoStar secured a raid in the Philippines of “the headquarters for a firm called Avion where hackers were believed to be stealing proprietary real-estate photos and information on behalf of an industry rival. Wielding a court order, the teams swept through Avion’s sprawling facility — eight hours from Manila and accessible by a single road — and emerged with 262 hard drives containing 35 terabytes of data.” The raid that exposed this crime also turned up evidence of more disturbing crimes. Evidence was recovered that Avion was involved in human sex trafficking and the website known as backpage.com.
Backpage.com is a site that has been accused of child pornography and prostitution. For a company like Xceligent to be allegedly employing a firm that engages wholesale illegal activity would be of concern. The Avion professional hacking enterprise seems to be sketchy at a minimum – why would a reputable firm like Xceligent consider hiring a firm like that? Raises questions.
To the U.S Justice Department and this and the previous administration another Twisted Sister song rings true -“If this is your best your best won’t do.” The United States must get serious about IP theft and should make sure that this issue is thoroughly investigated.