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Air Force Planning IP Protection Group Of Its Own

by Chris Brook on Thursday October 24, 2019

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To combat the ongoing epidemic around IP theft, the U.S. Air Force recently announced plans to develop an internal group to better protect the USAF's "hard-won intellectual property."

The U.S. Air Force, much like the Pentagon and other government entities of late, is looking to crack down on intellectual property theft sooner than later.

In a recent keynote address at the Air Force Association's Air, Space & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan said the service branch - a contingent of the U.S. Armed Forces - is planning on dedicating a group to preventing IP theft within the Air Force.

“As we bring on new capabilities quickly, it’s important that we protect the intellectual property associated with these assets from countries that would like to steal our ideas,” Donovan said according to Air Force Magazine, "Ultimately, they recommended we create what they call a ‘smart IP cadre’ that will partner with industry and serve as the Air Force’s lead agency in a whole-of-government approach to theft of our hard-won intellectual property.”

The formation of the group has been in the works for some time. In 2018, the Under Secretary of the Air Force assembled a cross-functional team containing 10 experts five attorneys from the General Counsel of the Air Force and five airmen experienced in intellectual property-related issues as they relate to acquisition, sustainment, logistics.

Following up on the meeting, the group released a report in April this year outlining IP acquisition strategies, techniques, and policies, stressing the importance of intellectual property as it pertains to the Air Force's ability to "modernize and sustain its major weapons systems."

"We must adopt a consistent and thorough approach to defining our requirements for rights in technical data rights and computer software, as well as need for associated deliverables, during each phase of the program lifecycle," the report read. "We must be transparent in communicating our intellectual property requirements to industry and ensure that our acquisition strategies encourage private investment, promote competitiveness, and attract commercial companies with innovative technologies throughout the supply chain."

The public sector has really ramped up its efforts around protecting U.S. IP from data theft this year. The Department of Defense announced in August that it was planning to launch an "IP Cadre" of its own in October.

Ellen Lord, the DoD's Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment said in a press briefing at the time she hoped the group would be able to "develop DOD policy within the whole-of-government effort to address concerns on data rights."

"We need to go on the offense to protect our technology versus merely acting defensively," Lord said at the briefing.

A bill introduced in the Senate back in May also sought to curb China's acquisition of valuable U.S. intellectual property. One of the goals of the bill, The China Technology Transfer Control Act of 2019, is to formally call out the country for IP theft and what the bill's author, Josh Hawley (R-Miss) deems "predatory trade practices."

Tags: IP theft

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Chris Brook

Chris Brook is the editor of Data Insider. He is a technology journalist with a decade of experience writing about information security, hackers, and privacy. Chris has attended many infosec conferences and has interviewed hackers and security researchers. Prior to joining Digital Guardian he helped launch Threatpost, an independent news site which is a leading source of information about IT and business security for hundreds of thousands of professionals worldwide.