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Global Security and Intelligence Studies

Global Security and Intelligence Studies

Abstract

This article investigates the diffusion of military technology through the cyber theft of intellectual property (IP). During the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union worried about illicit appropriation of military technology, some of which occurred through review of IP documents. Recently, these concerns have intensified, as the expanding use of IP has offered a window—sometimes one left wide open—for theft. This is particularly the case for dual-use technology, which is less likely to have been initially created with secrecy protections in place. In recent years, sources have alleged that China is appropriating a vast amount of military-related IP from the United States. As the digital age has matured, there is persuasive evidence that China is taking advantage of the steps involved in others’ IP regimes by using cyber espionage to access into materials developed as part of the IP legal regime. These include defense contractors’ internal legal documents, law firms’ written evaluations of technology, as well as patent applications submitted to the Patent and Trademark Office. The opportunity that these access points provide adds a new layer to the analysis of the diffusion of military technology.

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