Posted at 6:29 a.m. PST Monday, January 12, 1998 Spies took $300 billion toll on U.S. firms in 1997 LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Foreign spies have increased their attacks on U.S.-based companies, who lost an estimated $300 billion in 1997 alone in intellectual property losses, it was reported today. Governments of at least 23 countries, ranging from Germany to China, are targeting U.S. firms, according to the FBI. The information was published today by the Los Angeles Times, which obtained the results of a survey by the American Society for Industrial Security due for release Wednesday. ``The odds are not favorable for any American company when they are targeted for clandestine action by some country's intelligence service,'' said Larry Torrence, deputy assistant director of national security who urged U.S. firms to notify the FBI if they suspect espionage. The society's periodic surveys, which FBI Director Louis J. Freeh has cited in congressional testimony, provide the federal government with its only estimate of potential damage from economic espionage, the newspaper reported. More than 1,100 documented incidents of economic espionage and 550 suspected incidents that could not be fully documented were reported last year by major companies in the survey. The 1997 survey disclosed that high-tech companies were the most frequent targets of foreign spies, followed by manufacturing and service industries. The spies targeted research and development strategies, manufacturing and marketing plans and customer lists. The FBI does not identify governments that sponsor economic espionage, but a recent article in Public Administration Review, published by the American Society for Public Administration, offered a look at commercial spying by foreign intelligence services. In the article by Edwin Fraumann, a New York-baesd FBI agent who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, France, Germany, Israel, China. Russia and South Korea were listed as major offenders. The FBI confirmed Fraumann's report that more than 700 foreign counterintelligence investigations involving economic espionage are pending before the bureau. It said economic spying by countries considered friends as well as adversaries of the United States has been increasing, despite passage of the 1996 Economic Espionage Act. The act makes theft of proprietary economic information a felony punishable by a $10-million fine and 15-year prison sentence. China was involved in one of the few cases the FBI has brought into court so far under the act. Harold C. Worden, 56, a retired Eastman Kodak manager, pleaded guilty in November to stealing Kodak's formulas, drawings and blueprints and passing them along to China. He agreed to cooperate in a continuing investigation. )1997 - 1998 Mercury Center. The information you receive online from Mercury Center is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.
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