* USTR Kirk: trade secret theft from China a growing concern
* Another official says strategy not aimed at any one nation
By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, Feb 20 The White House said on
Wednesday it will step up diplomatic pressure and study whether
tougher laws are needed to stop a wave of trade secret theft
from China and other countries in a strategy that offered few
new ideas for dealing with the threat.
"Trade secret theft threatens American businesses,
undermines national security and places the security of the U.S.
economy in jeopardy," the White House said in a report that laid
out its strategy. "These acts also diminish U.S. export
prospects around the globe and put American jobs at risk."
"Emerging trends indicate that the pace of economic
espionage and trade secret theft against U.S. corporations is
accelerating," the White House warned in the report, which
listed threats to corporate intellectual property from cyber
attacks and more conventional methods of economic espionage.
The report did not specifically name any country as the main
culprit. But it listed more than a dozen cases of trade secret
theft by Chinese companies or individuals, far more than any
other country mentioned in the report.
U.S. corporate victims of the Chinese theft included General
Motors, Ford, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Cargill.
"For an economy like ours, that's going to win based on our
innovation of what we produce and create, this is a critically
important issue," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told
Reuters in an interview ahead of the report's release.
The Obama administration released the strategy one day after
a U.S. computer security company said it believed a secretive
Chinese military unit was behind a series of hacking attacks.
China flatly denied the accusations made by the company,
Mandiant, calling them "unprofessional." Its Defense Ministry
said hacking attacks are a global problem and that China is one
of the biggest victims of cyber assaults.
Victoria Espinel, the White House intellectual property
rights enforcement coordinator, said the new strategy
coordinates and improves existing U.S. government efforts to
protect the innovation that drive the American economy and
supports jobs in the United States.
Kirk said the problem of trade secret theft in China was a
factor in the decisions by some U.S. companies to move
operations back to the United States.
The companies have "had very frank conversations with the
Chinese, (saying) 'you know it's one thing to accept a certain
level of copyright knock-offs, but if you're going to take our
core technology, then we're better off being in our home
country," Kirk told Reuters.