Unfair competition can hurt your business and lead to substantial financial losses. Fair and appropriate competition drives innovation and helps keep prices fair for consumers, but unfair competition may ultimately achieve the opposite. By potentially forcing one company out of business or reducing their market share, unfair competition can undermine free markets.
If another business is jealous of your success or your trade secrets, they could engage in underhanded conduct to try to access that information. When does snooping turn into an act of corporate espionage?
Corporate espionage either violates the law or a pre-existing contract
Numerous behaviors can constitute corporate espionage. One business simply trying to glean information about another company is not necessarily corporate espionage or against the law. Even hiring people who have recently left your company or paying your workers for inside information may not be against the law or an actionable business practice.
For another company’s actions to constitute corporate espionage, those actions either need to violate the law or a contract. Pushing one of your workers to violate a nondisclosure agreement with financial incentives could be corporate espionage. The same is true of breaking and entering or hacking into your network with the intention of stealing business secrets.
Threatening your workers or stealing from your company are not legal acts, but trickery, lying and even social engineering may be perfectly legal in different situations. You will need proof of misconduct or contract violations if you want to take legal action.
Being able to identify corporate espionage can help you fight back with business litigation against unfair competition that could harm your company.