Tuesday, April 08, 2014

FBI issues warning about possible Russian theft of intellectual property

In a post titled FBI says Russians out to steal technology from Boston firms, but evidence is thin, Kyle Alspach wrote

In an extraordinary warning issued to technology companies in Massachusetts, the FBI’s Boston office said entrepreneurs could unwittingly be drawn into industrial espionage if they work with Russian-backed venture capital firms operating here and in Silicon Valley.

The bureau said it has sent notices to local companies and research facilities such as universities, and on Friday [April 4, 2014] published a Boston Business Journal op-ed by an agent in the FBI’s Boston office.

The warning was NOT specific as to "which" venture capital firms, BUT included text:

the warning grew out of a proliferation of intellectual property theft from US companies by Chinese firms over the past decade.

Like China, Russia has lax intellectual property protections, Ziobro said, and a documented history of corruption that could lead to similar thefts of American technology.

Though the FBI did not single out Russian venture capital firms by name, two of the best-known in the technology community are RVC, which has a US office in Boston, and RUSNANO USA, which is based in Silicon Valley and has invested in several Massachusetts companies.

The head of RUSNANO USA said he was dumbfounded by the FBI’s warning.

As to specifics related to RUSNANO, the article stated

RUSNANO’s local investments include $35 million in Joule Unlimited of Bedford, which is developing renewable fuels, and $25 million in BIND Therapeutics, a biotech company in Cambridge cofounded by famed MIT scientist Robert Langer.

Prominent Boston-area venture capital firms invested alongside RUSNANO in those companies.

A partner in RUSNANO’s Menlo Park, Calif., office sits on the board of BIND Therapuetics, and a second firm spun out of Langer’s lab, Selecta Biosciences Inc. of Watertown.

Officials at BIND, Selecta, and Joule declined to comment Monday.

Recall the recent trade secret case under 18 USC 1832 against a former Microsoft employee, Alex Kibkalo. A plea deal was formalized on March 31, 2014.


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