State-sponsored computer hacking may now be China’s preferred form of commercial espionage, but now and then they still get caught doing it the old-fashioned way – simply buying what they want. Robert Maegerle, a thirty-five year DuPont employee was recently convicted of selling secret aspects of the company’s TiCO2 chloride-route process for manufacturing titanium dioxide/tetrachloride to four PRC-owned companies, for more than $20 million. Hacking, to be sure, might well be cheaper; but the world market for titanium dioxide runs to $12 billion annually, and DuPont’s process – which it has been perfecting for over 60 years – has won it the lion’s share of those revenues. Seen in that light, and given that titanium tetrachloride has military/aerospace uses, the Chinese probably got a bargain.
Foresight Point: Don’t make matters worse by lying to the court. Maegerle was also found guilty of obstructing justice by causing a false statement to be included in his answer to the complaint in a related civil action.