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Australian Defense Scientists Plagiarizing Trade Secrets 60

An anonymous reader writes "At least five businesses have alleged senior officers in the Defence Science and Technology Organization have plagiarized intellectual property for their own research [free reg. required] and then passed it on to government business partners to develop a rival product. There are fears that IP plagiarizing could increase with the new Defence Trade Controls Act passed last year despite warnings from the universities it would drive research offshore. Once the trial period ends Australian high-tech researchers will face up to 10 years jail for sending an e-mail or making an overseas phone call without a government permit."
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Australian Defense Scientists Plagiarizing Trade Secrets

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  • Yep, that's how it starts... a couple of bad eggs wind up compromising everyone's freedom to plagiarize.
    • The Article (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:55PM (#45591423)

      At least five businesses have alleged senior officers in the Defence Science and Technology Organisation have plagiarised their intellectual property for their own research and then passed it on to business partners to develop a rival product. They also allege there is a âoerogue element within the agencyâ and a âoeculture of circling the wagons when confronted with allegations against themâ.

      And there are fears that IP plagiarising could increase with the Labor government last year implementing the Defence Trade Controls Act, which seeks to limit Australian businesses or individuals supplying technology to someone outside of Australia without first revealing their IP to the Australian government.

      Brendan Jones, a Brisbane-based small businessman, spent 12 years of his life developing his revolutionary Kestrel Tactical Simulator, a PC-based professional military platform that simulates air, sea, land and space operations anywhere on the planet. The program simulated various transport modes, weaponry, radars and other sensors.

      âoeIt realistically simulated injuries,â Jones explained to Crikey. âoeA shot soldier would start bleeding at a rate appropriate for the wound, and would have to get medical attention, say, via a medivac before they went into shock. I spent many years studying warfare intently to make it as accurate an experience as possible.â

      Jones wanted to sell the software to the Defence Department but he was told he must go through DSTO. The government organisation looked at it but eventually recommended against funding the project because it was âoeimpossible to do on a PCâ. Jones battled on.

      âoeI developed the software myself from my own savings, but when I finished, DSTO tricked ADF into believing the software wouldnâ(TM)t ship for several years. They then gave my IP to scientists I had been warned were plagiarising private sector research, broke a non-disclosure agreement, and three months later they commissioned their business partner to produce a rival version known as BattleModel,â Jones said.

      Crikey understands BattleModel only began as an air simulator while Jonesâ(TM) KTS was multi-domain (land, sea, air and space) and in particular had excellent maritime simulation capability that was a major attraction to the Navy. An independent investigator appointed by the ADF to investigate the theft of IP told Jones: âoeYour software and the DSTO BattleModel software were remarkably similar. When I started this case I couldnâ(TM)t see any similarities between KTS and BattleModel. Now I canâ(TM)t see anything they donâ(TM)t have in common.â

      Most people Crikey spoke to were unwilling to speak on the record due to a fear of upsetting existing business contracts with the ADF. A CEO of a major defence industry organisation told Crikey the organisation was aware of three recent cases where the DSTO had plagiarised a small business and run off with its ideas. âoeIâ(TM)m the first to say there are two sides to every story, but as more instances came up and I thought this is starting to happen a bit much,â the CEO said. âoeThe first person you think, well, he might be a bad businessman and didnâ(TM)t protect his IP, but then you start hearing of other people, and now Iâ(TM)ve had three cases across my desk, and Iâ(TM)m beginning to think that there is some sort of a systemic problem within the organisation.â

      One of the businesspeople considered taking legal action but decided not to fight the department as he suffered a nervous breakdown during protracted negotiations. In a confidential email to the CEO, he said:

      âoeJust letting you know that I am finished now. DMO cancelled all of my contracts; DSTO awarded my last contract to xxxxx who had been given access to all of my IP and processes by DSTO so thereâ(TM)s nothing left for me to do now. All the work I developed and pushed with xxxxx will

  • by Empiric ( 675968 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @08:36PM (#45590535)
    ...that industrial espionage, not "terrorism", is the real purpose for storage capacity of the magnitude of the NSA's Utah facility.

    Not that any other government that can, won't. Eventually business will be sorted into those who have "government connections", and those who don't--the former collecting the latter's innovations and work product en masse (thus, essentially, their lives), and putting them out of business.

    Corporatism (alternately, fascism), with turbo boost.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The NSA has nothing to do with this. Believe it or not, not everything revolves around the USA.
      • by Empiric ( 675968 )

        In terms of the technology involved, it pretty-much does.

        But that's irrelevant. As I said, I expect any given country to follow suit (and they have done so historically)--just that Internet-scraping gives a vastly more-efficient mechanism for it, a fact which the NSA is well aware. It's an issue of principle, and it applies regardless of who is doing it. The scale just increases the potential damage.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        The NSA would be very interested in all Australia emerging mil tech issues.
        "Bezaley tells of US code crack" []
        e.g. US mil says "No" to Australia on some mil sales and upgrades - what does Australia do? Try and lobby around the US restrictions and then just work around US mil export grade equipment.. sharing with outside firms and brands..until the work is done to Australian needs.
        The US also knows Australia has di
    • Australian spooks spy for commercial gain:

      "Australian spy agency helped BHP negotiate trade deals" []

      "East Timor will launch a case in The Hague alleging the Australia Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) covertly recorded Timorese ministers and officials during oil and gas negotiations" []

      They also s
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @08:41PM (#45590559)

    Governments place themselves ABOVE IP laws when it comes to so called 'national defence'. You don't think, for instance, the Americans told the Russians to stop work on nuclear weapons, because the yanks had patented all the technology provided by the international scientists that America had accumulated from the period of WW2 and after?

    Patents are civilian mechanisms- always have been and always will be. No nation will allow issues of 'defence' to be hamstrung by issues of who invented what. So why are the owners of Slashdot pushing this NON-STORY? There is always an agenda here. Let me guess, Slashdot is about to start pushing the line that Iran are 'bad guys' cos all their civilian nuclear technology was invented by Israelis, or some other such zionist garbage. Are we about to see another attempt to get the sheeple behind anti-Iranian propaganda, using this new tactic.

    And yes, before the usual vile shills dribble about how THIS story is about a nation in the West, I should point out this is simply the tactic of LEGITIMISATION- first of all establish a false principle, and then use that false principle to attack your real 'enemy'.

    And let me make another thing clear. IF the excuse of ignoring IP laws for defence work leads to patent abuse using to give commercial advantage in NON-defence industries, the patent holders can take action in civil courts. The route by which the infringement happened is NOT a defence against prosecution.

    So, again ALL nations steal each others secrets when making war weapons, or systems that serve the same, and this is TOTALLY legal. There are, and never will be any UN conventions or treaties prohibiting such behaviour (see if you can figure out why). But, this fact does NOT protect ordinary non-defence companies in the same nations if they infringe IP laws, even if they were given the information to do so by people working in the defence fields. This is not a difficult thing to understand.

    • You spelled legalising wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This sounds fine at first blush, but since most 'war work' these days is contracted out to private companies it's clear that it can be very hard to define where the legal part ends and the illegal part starts.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @10:39PM (#45591341) Homepage Journal

      no they don't.

      they didn't even in tougher times.
      during ww1 and ww2 patents were paid both ways, even for shit like guns. IP law lobbyists trump even spies and generals. maxim made a shitload of money by licensing his gun to everyone's armies(and none of them copied it without paying license fees! even when they were going to have war with the nation the license fees would flow into!).

      there's no exemptions for this stuff in the laws(of western nations), there's no rule that if an invention is for killing then patents don't count...

      so shut up, ok? excusing blatant law breaking because "it's the government so it's ok!" is just pure shit. furthermore it's usually some company breaking it and selling the results to said government.. industrial espionage - with winners chosen by NSA - for kickbacks. it twists capitalism and makes some non-democratically chosen people very powerful so have fun with that then...

      • Well, there is the invention secrecy act in the US. Not quite what the guy was getting at, but not completely unrelated either.

        But otherwise, yeah, that AC is an idiot. First clue should have been his conspiracy theory about slashdot preparing to go anti-iran for nuke patents. Because the slashdot crowd is so pro-patent that would have any meaningful effect on our opinion of iran.

    • by Brendan_Jones ( 3452957 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @01:35AM (#45592121)
      This was the actual text from Clayton Utz, the law firm acting for the Australian Department of Defence: "“The reason we believe your claim will fail is because you allege that the Commonwealth owes innovators submitting products or technology for evaluation a duty of care to ensure that the evaluations are either fair, proper and accurate or that the confidential information is respected. There is no such duty of care in Australian law.”

      They are very disingenuous: The DSTO publicly solicits businesses to submit inventions to Defence under the "DSTO CTD Capability and Technology Demonstrator Program", and then screw them over behind closed doors.

      Here the Defence Science Minister Warren Snowdon announced a DSTO Probity Board "to protect against conflict of interest" [], while here he sends a letter to an independent MP in which he falsely claims the whistleblower didn't want the thefts from other companies to be investigated(!): []

      Australia's Federal Police force, the AFP, are systemically corrupt. They ignore public service crime [] and terrorise whistleblowers: [] []

      You can't use the civil courts: Under the Model Litigant Policy the Australian government has to keep legal costs to a minimum, must offer alternate dispute resolution, etc. But the government lawyers simply ignore it, run up huge legal bills and threaten to bankrupt you with a costs order if you dare step foot into court. [] Another department did actually bankrupt a guy. Not mentioned in the article, the DSTO also stole IP from some big defence companies (including an American one).

      It costs about $2M to litigate the gov. I don't know of a single company who has seen litigation through: SMEs can't afford it, and the large companies said litigating their biggest customer would lose future contracts. The only law firms capable of taking on the government pro bono in Australia are all on retainer to them! Here's a very good book "Our Corrupt Legal System" by an investigative crime journalist; Page 157- describes all the dirty tricks lawyers play: [] . play.
    • Criminal charges and ten years hard time for researchers who communicate with their international peers (y'know, the ones from "peer review") is hardly a non-story, friend.
      • > Criminal charges and ten years hard time for researchers who communicate with their international peers (y'know, the ones from "peer review") is hardly a non-story, friend.

        Exactly, and that's why the universities hate it so much: That's the way they do research; by collaborating with peers.

        The University of Sydney Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research warned: "Our researchers may have lost their ability to freely conduct public-good research and communicate research results ... This legislation could
  • A law with vague descriptions of actions that will be illegal. Perfect for use against those non-conformists when used capriciously.
  • Is that it is created and published under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 3.0 Australia licence. Perhaps the answer is to open source everything and just give up on trying to patent anything anymore, at least in Australia.

  • To Judge: Your Honor, the defendant PURPOSELY and MALICIOUSLY obtained our client's, ah-herm, music, and proceeded to produce an in-tune, harmonic, and lyrics-actually-make-sense version of her song. This Is Intolerable for the future integrity of music!

    Just THINK of the embarrassment and harassment endured by our client as someone rendered a better melodic performance than her. For Lady Gaga, this corruption of her musical interpretation is outrageous and must be stopped at all costs to uphold the honor

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.