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In theft of trade secrets, sentence is harshest ever

Earlier this week, a former engineer for Motorola was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing information from her one-time employer. Her sentence is one of the harshest ever imposed in the U.S. for a crime such as hers. Her story should show all Sacramento readers that authorities don't take cases of industrial espionage lightly.

The woman was apprehended five years ago at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. A U.S. Customs Officer searched her bag as part of a random inspection and found that she was carrying $30,000 in cash, a one-way ticket to China and Motorola documents that were labeled "confidential and proprietary information." The documents contained trade secrets, which is a legal term for information that derives some of its value from being not being widely known and has been subject to reasonable efforts to preserve its secrecy.

What further worried prosecutors is that the engineer also had classified documents from the Chinese military. That led to them to worry that she had stolen the Motorola technology with the intent of giving to the China for military purposes.

Industrial espionage like this has become one of the top concerns of U.S. government officials. Not only are American companies losing their edge thanks to thefts of protected information by companies in countries such as China and Russia, valuable technology that could be used for military purposes is believed to be slipping away, too.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Former Motorola engineer sentenced to 4 years in trade-secret case," Ameet Sachdev, Aug. 31 2012

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