George Clooney led his team of ingenious Las Vegas thieves through all sorts of tricks in the “Ocean’s” series of casino heist movies, Val Kilmer tangled with the Russian mafia in “The Saint” to steal the secrets to cold fusion, while Mark Wahlberg starred in a remake of “The Italian Job” to get his hands on gold.
Now my colleagues Jun Yang and Kyunghee Park have authored “The Curious Case of Samsung’s Missing TVs,” a great read on how a couple of missing TVs hold clues to the multibillion-dollar corporate espionage business that makes Danny Ocean’s rag-tag team look like petty pickpockets.
South Korea, which counts Samsung as its chief exporter, estimates foreign theft of its corporate secrets cost it $82 billion in damages in 2008. In Taiwan, legislators are drafting tougher laws on IP theft with stricter penalties for cross-border espionage, after a Chinese rival allegedly stole secrets from panel-maker AU Optronics. Meanwhile, in India, 35 percent of companies engage in stealing secrets to gain an edge.
While it hurts the boffins coming up with the innovations, the good news for Hollywood is that as the heists continue, there’ll be no shortage of fodder for sequels.