Amid Cyber-Theft Onslaught, Calit2 Workshop Kicks Off New IP-Focused Program

In a recent issue of his weekly newsletter, the IT futurist Mark Anderson writes that the nature of Internet-based security threats—like a lot of other things on the Web—underwent a wholesale metamorphosis after 2003.

Before 2003, Anderson says U.S. network administrators and security experts spent most of their time dealing with “old school” cyber threats like viruses and other types of malware. Since then, however, there has been a dramatic increase in concerted efforts to steal U.S. technology secrets stored on government and corporate computer servers. These cyber threats are increasingly sophisticated, well funded, persistent, and expertly organized and executed.

The nature of this new cyber threat burst into the public realm early last year, when The New York Times reported that an overwhelming percentage of cyber attacks on U.S. corporations, organizations, and government agencies were originating from a specialized Chinese Army unit in the outskirts of Shanghai.

As cyber intrusions emanating from China reached unprecedented levels, Anderson formed a global consortium called INVNT/IP (Inventing Nations vs. Nation-sponsored Theft of IP) to promote high-level cooperation in addressing the issue. With help from the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), INVNT/IP has organized a public workshop at UC San Diego Thursday to lay out the ramifications of state-sponsored cyber theft.

“Calit2 has a long-term interest in pulling together the academic and private sectors to create environments which encourage innovation,” said Calit2 director Larry Smarr, who is an advisor to INVNT/IP. “A major part of that environment must be an effort to define and safeguard intellectual property which emerges from innovation. “

Smarr describes the workshop as “a kickoff meeting of a multi-year Calit2 program with our campus and private sector partners to pursue best practices in the creation and protection of IP coming out of UC San Diego labs.”

The event is free and open to the public, although registration is required. Xconomy is a media sponsor, and I’ll be moderating a late-afternoon panel discussion that explores the importance of using patent law to protect the kind of technology innovations that generate enormous wealth.

“The university plays a critical role in the creation of IP,” Smarr said, “but there are many people in the private sector who don’t necessarily know how an innovation goes from being an idea in a professor’s lab to being a formal piece of intellectual property—and how the university decides which innovations to back. We hope this meeting will shed some light on this process and how valuable IP can be protected.”

Anderson describes innovation as a supply chain from the research lab to the global marketplace, saying, “If that chain is short-circuited because of IP theft, you may lose a future company of great value. So we have to understand the scale of the threat facing the $84 trillion of the global economy that is driven by IP.”

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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