What are the penalties for corporate espionage in New Jersey?

When you hear “espionage,” you likely think about spies on action-filled missions. However, a much more common type of espionage that can involve both individuals and organizations is corporate espionage. Unfortunately, disgruntled employees or those seeking financial gain for selling trade secrets can not only be sued by their employer for their losses but face criminal charges. Corporate espionage is a serious crime that carries harsh penalties. If you have been accused of corporate espionage, it is in your best interest to retain the legal services of a determined Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney who can fight for your rights to help you avoid criminal charges. 

What constitutes corporate espionage in New Jersey?

Corporate espionage, industrial espionage, corporate spying, or economic espionage is conducted for commercial and financial purposes. As mentioned above, when you think of espionage, you likely think about spies operating covert operations to obtain information. However, espionage techniques are commonly used in competitive corporate settings. It is often practiced as insiders transferring trade secrets from one company to another. For example, if a disgruntled employee gets fired from one company, a rival company may hire them to obtain your company’s valuable data and information. The following include but are not limited to some of the techniques that are classified as industrial espionage:

  • Wiretapping or eavesdropping on a competitor
  • Trespassing onto a competitor’s property
  • Hiring away employees
  • Accessing a competitor’s files without permission
  • Hacking into a competitor’s computers
  • Conducting cyber attacks on competitor’s websites with malware

Is it considered a crime in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, companies are safeguarded from corporate espionage due to the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act. Corporate espionage defines trade secrets as “formulas, patterns, programs, devices, diagrams, techniques, inventions, or plans that have to do with genuine economic value.” If an employee of a company misappropriates trade secrets, their employer can hold them legally responsible. An employee can be sued by their employer. If you have leaked or sold your company’s valuable data or information, your employer can take legal action against you to seek monetary compensation for their damages.

The federal government has its own set of laws to govern this issue, known as the Economic Espionage Act. Essentially, the Economic Espionage Act makes it a federal crime to steal commercial secrets from a company. Therefore, while the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act does not involve criminal charges, this law applies potential penalties such as fines and possible jail time. It is critical to note that the harshest penalties for this criminal offense are often issued to those who have sold commercial secrets to foreign entities.

If you have been charged with corporate espionage, contact a skilled Bergen County criminal defense attorney from The Law Office of Carl Spector. This is a serious criminal offense that carries significant penalties. To maximize your chances of reaching the best possible outcome for your case, allow our firm to represent you today.