Cybersecurity and IP lawyers say the Justice Department's (DOJ) indictment of a team of Chinese intelligence officers and hackers for allegedly stealing jet engine manufacturing trade secrets from U.S. and French companies is a wake-up call for American businesses.

The DOJ alleges that intelligence officers Zha Rong and Chai Meng and other co-conspirators worked for the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security headquartered in Nanjing, a provincial foreign intelligence arm of the People’s Republic of China's Ministry of State Security. It is believed that all of the alleged conspirators are still in China, according to media reports. It is not clear if the DOJ plans on extraditing the defendants.

Edward McAndrew, a partner at Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia and also a former federal prosecutor, said the lesson in this is that IP theft is a "long game" and that companies should begin protecting their IP much as they protect personal data. "You don't need to disclose and there is no immediate loss," said McAndrew. "I think that's a lot of the reason why we don't see companies paying as close attention to intellectual property."

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