Intellectual Property Theft – Uncovering the Tracks

If you suspect an employee has breached the terms of their employment contract by extracting confidential company data, IT Group can assist to investigate any potential wrongdoing.  Below are some examples of IT Group investigative procedures previously employed in intellectual property rights investigations.

We have a team of consultants who specialise in source code comparison where program code may have been extracted and utilised in another application.  Using a combination of automated software and manual visual comparison we then deploy a variety of techniques to search for infringement such as white space analysis, copyright duplication, legacy commenting to name a few.

Sometimes persons accused of intellectual property theft are reluctant to allow the devices containing the alleged copied material to be investigated for fear of their own intellectual property being accessed.  Where this is the case, we can employ hash matching techniques which obscure the contents of the files taken and operate solely by comparing the hash values of alleged copied files against the originals without needing to gain access to the actual contents of the files.

Our team of specialists can be deployed into the company premises under the pretence of being external IT health-check system administrators. This ensures suspicion is not aroused when taking the necessary bit by bit forensic images of media potentially utilised in the suspected infringement.

If database right infringement is suspected, our team can re-instate forensically sound back-ups or copies of the infringed database and run comparative queries based on the infringement parameters set by the legal team or company stakeholder.   It is important that these parameters are clearly identified early within the dispute and documented for the expert to investigate.

Previous investigations performed by IT Group involved cross-checking the working hours of an employee alleged to have taken confidential company documents against CCTV footage highlighting their presence in a particular location from where the material was accessed.

This is where the role of the HR team can provide valuable insight.  Often company data theft occurs months or weeks before an employee ceases employment at the current company, therefore obtaining dates of letters of notice, and final employment date worked are crucial to the investigation.

If you suspect any wrongdoing, do not hesitate to contact one of our infringement investigators or a member of our digital forensics department for advice.

Read the other articles in this series by clicking the links below.