17 January 2008

IPR Risk: Beijing Olympics 2008 & Beyond...

The global corporate security directors have been planning for the 2008 Olympic Games in China for well over a year now. Company employees of Fortune 500 institutions who are in the intellectual property and branding departments have been working feverishly for even longer. What do the two have in common?

Safety, Security and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection to name a few. The stakes are tremendous and the world's stage for sports and marketing is coming soon to a web site, cell phone and e-mail in your control. These Operational Risks are growing especially to Corporate Travelers and other Executive Management who have engaged in negotiations and business deals for the past 24 months. Let's put some of this into context:

China Customs is committed to providing Beijing Olympic Games with good service in all respects and is entitled to conduct control over Olympic materials entering or leaving China Customs territory (hereafter referred to as the territory) in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. This notice applies to the completion of Customs formalities and the payment of Customs duties and the taxes collected by Customs on behalf of other government departments for importation of all materials entering or leaving the territory (hereafter referred to as the inward and outward materials) for the Olympic Games, Paralympics, testing-games, torch relay and other related activities during Beijing Olympic Games and its preparation period. The time for Beijing Olympic Games and its preparation period refer to the time starting from January 1st,, 2007 to October 17th,, 2008.

This is a facet of the puzzle that corporate marketing and operations management have ironed out for the most part. However, what is being addressed from another Intellectual Property perspective is another question. The Digital Age is certainly upon us and this brings a heightened sensitivity to the strategy for employees who plan on visiting China, before, during and after the Olympic Games in 2008.

Companies often have negotiated contractual obligations to protect confidential and trade secret information of customers, vendors, and business partners. Companies aggressively guard against theft or loss of intellectual property, however, the loss of sensitive employee and customer information can be just as damaging. Lose trust with your customer and you may lose the customer. Additionally, the media and public are paying increased attention to privacy breaches. Companies risk significant public embarrassment—not to mention potential litigation—if they fail to appropriately safeguard private and confidential information. Courts nationwide are also taking an increasingly intolerant view of companies that fail to take reasonable efforts to protect sensitive employee and customer data. The digital age has significantly increased the risk of data losses.

Security Advisory and OPS Risk Consulting firms have been gearing up for challenges global corporations face in the next six months. Increasing awareness, educating and training employees while testing the soundness of legal and security policies is just the beginning:

“The next wave of global coordinated attacks blends physical, logical and cyber exploits – specifically targeting high-value intellectual property and customer information around the world,” said Watters, iSIGHT Partners’ Founder, Chairman & CEO. “This trend will dominate the future threat landscape.”

John Watters knows the stakes and understands the magnitude of the digital challenges faced by corporate entities across the globe. In the wake of the speeding boat towards brand presence and intellectual property rights management, lies another common and misunderstood threat. It's called "guanxi".

Understanding this threat in the context and relevance to corporate stakeholders is vital. The focus on developing a vigilant strategy for interacting with business partners in China is imperative. Prudent CSO's and GC's are well on their way to rolling out the legal programs and security management training to mitigate the risks to their employees and their precious corporate secrets. This is the result of some very well known cases involving counterfeiting and enforcement of trademarks and intellectual property.

What might be less well known, is how digital information is being removed without your knowledge from devices such as laptops, cell phones and PDAs such as a Blackberry while you walk through the hotel lobby or the airport waiting area. Here is some easy advice and a simple strategy as you contemplate your intineary for the Olympic Games. Leave it at home, locked up in your corporate office.

No comments:

Post a Comment