Backdoor Man: A Radiograph of Computer Source Code Theft Cases

30 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2018  

Ioana Vasiu

Babes-Bolyai University - Faculty of Law

Lucian Vasiu


Date Written: December 20, 2017


The misappropriation of trade secrets threat comes from numerous sources, such as current or former employees, competitors, clients, suppliers, and hackers. Given the fundamental role computer programs play in numerous industries, and taken into consideration the high complexity and financial investments involved in the development process, source code presents a particular interest for perpetrators. Successful misappropriation can result in profound consequences for the victims, compelling strong legal protection. Depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense, the theft of source code can be prosecuted as violation of several statutes, such as the Economic Espionage Act; the Fraud by Wire, Radio, or Television; the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; the National Stolen Property Act; and the Arms Export Control Act.

This article presents a radiograph of cases of theft of source code held as a trade secret, brought to courts in violation of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, Title 18, Section 1832 of the U.S. Code. The comprehensive study of cases brought under Section 1832 revealed numerous attention holding arguments, issues, and viewpoints, concerning the trade secret definition; the ascertainability and the economic value of the information in dispute; the clarity or effectiveness of the security measures employed; the intent to convert and the moment when the defendant acquired the culpable intent; and loss calculation.

Keywords: Software, Source Code, Computer Program, Trade Secret, Intellectual Property, IPR, Cybercrime, Security Measures, Misappropriation, Litigation, Loss, Sentencing

JEL Classification: F53, K12, K14, K30, K41, K42, L86, O34

Suggested Citation

Vasiu, Ioana and Vasiu, Lucian, Backdoor Man: A Radiograph of Computer Source Code Theft Cases (December 20, 2017). 18 J. High Tech. L. 1 (2017). Available at SSRN:

Ioana Vasiu (Contact Author)

Babes-Bolyai University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Str.Avram Iancu nr. 11
1 street mihail kogalniceanu
Cluj-Napoca, cluj RO- 400089

Lucian Vasiu

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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