An industrial spy tries to steal $20 million in trade secrets from Minnesota-based Valspar paints. The kingpin of a Houston-based drug counterfeiting ring makes millions plugging his fake pharmaceuticals into the pipeline of Britain's socialized medical system. In Washington, the Defense Department unwittingly buys and installs knockoff Cisco computer software to track troop movements.
The theft of intellectual property has grown into an organized crime wave that costs U.S. businesses up to $250 billion a year in lost revenue and pilfered ideas, officials estimate. The problem extends from charade Chanel perfume to pirated movies to bogus cancer drugs. It includes the theft and marketing of chemical formulas and designs for medical devices.