U.S. companies participating in a government-run technology sharing “clean energy” program with China were reluctant to share their intellectual property (IP) over fears it would be stolen, according to a watchdog report.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the Energy Department’s U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, or CERC, and found U.S. companies participating in it were reluctant to share intellectual property with potential Chinese competitors.
“Although CERC participants reported no significant issues with DOE’s approach to managing IP risks, companies participating in CERC have been reluctant to share background IP as a part of CERC,” GAO reported.
“As a result, U.S. CERC participants only shared background IP with Chinese organizations for 3 of the more than 80 projects that took place in the first 5-year phase of CERC,” GAO reported.
GAO’s findings shouldn’t be surprising. China has a history of stealing IP from competitors and passing that information to state-backed corporations. In 2012, former FBI Director Robert Mueller warned Congress about Chinese hackers targeting American companies’ IP.
In 2015, the FBI reported a 53 percent increase in espionage cases against American companies. That’s especially true for green energy companies.