Recent developments in U.S.-Chinese relations again have crossed into the technological world, as the U.S. has become increasingly concerned over Chinese cyber attacks. In turn, the Chinese government has vehemently denied any participation, stating any actions taken were by independent hackers. Nevertheless, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan recently met to try to smooth over some of the rising tension.

When asked about the recent cyber activity initiated from China, Minister Chang said "The Chinese military never supported any hacker activities. It is obvious that the Chinese government's position is to take peaceful use of cyberspace."

While it might not appear that this matter directly applies to the field of intellectual property, it does. Internet based attacks by foreign hackers on United States government, manufacturers, businesses or their databases no doubt impact patented and trademarked ideas. For this reason, and in the wake of the recent NSA scandal, business people need to be kept up to date on internet-based attacks on the United States.

In The Spotlight

In a recent keynote address at the USENIX Security Symposium, Andy Ozment, senior director for cyber security at the White House, delineated the Obama administration’s five-part security plan:

  • Protect critical infrastructure by raising awareness of voluntary standards and promoting information sharing,
  • Secure government infrastructure by implementing trusted Internet connections, two-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring,
  • Engage internationally, and
  • Improve incident response.
  • Shape the future by improving the odds for network defenders, shape the network through such initiatives as DNS SEC, training cyber-security professionals and support research and development of “programming methods that will lead to more secure systems.”

Mr. Ozment also stated that the government is now trying to limit its number of trusted and secure internet connections. The plan is to eventually cut the number of “safe” connections down from tens of thousands to less than 50.

When asked about the overall international engagement plan of the United States for the above issues, Mr. Ozment cited the recent development of an American working group with the Chinese government, stating he was “very hopeful for how we can make progress in that space.”

As the threat is believed to be coming from independent hackers, and not the Chinese government itself, there is obviously concern that a similar threat could arise even from American allied countries. In addressing this issue, Mr. Ozment stated the United States also had intentions to work with neutral and allied countries in a similar manner.

What effect do cyber attacks have on the average American and U.S. manufacturers?

Though these strategies are somewhat vague, we can at least take solace in the fact that the American Government is taking these threats seriously, and they are moving forward in conjunction with the aid of foreign governments to correct the situation.

This leaves many Americans with a fairly obvious question: what effect do cyber attacks have on the average American and U.S. manufacturers?

There is no direct or clear answer to this question. As with many government operations, we in the public aren’t aware of all of the facts.

Nevertheless, it has become increasingly apparent that the internet is not a totally secure place and Americans, especially manufacturers and others with pending intellectual property interests, should be wary of the information they are exposing to the world.


Vincent LoTempio
About The Author Vincent LoTempio [Full Bio]
Vincent G. LoTempio is a registered patent attorney focusing on licensing, patents, trademarks and copyright law for inventors and corporations. In addition, he is a columnist, blogger and lecturer on intellectual property, and co-author of Patent Fundamentals for Scientists and Engineers.

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