Industrial Espionage

DEFINITION of 'Industrial Espionage'

The theft of trade secrets by the removal, copying or recording of confidential or valuable information in a company for use by a competitor. Industrial espionage is conducted for commercial purposes rather than national security purposes (espionage), and should be differentiated from competitive intelligence, which is the legal gathering of information by examining corporate publications, websites, patent filings and the like, to determine a corporation's activities.

BREAKING DOWN 'Industrial Espionage'

Industrial espionage describes covert activities, such as the theft of trade secrets, bribery, blackmail and technological surveillance. Industrial espionage is most commonly associated with technology-heavy industries, particularly the computer and auto sectors, in which a significant amount of money is spent on research and development (R&D).

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