In the “normal” business world, much lip service is paid to trade secrets. By and large, all companies publicly state that trade secret protection is of paramount importance. Whether or not those secrets are actually protected, though, is a different story. Some companies are much more stringent about protecting trade secrets than others. The hypocrisy between public position and private conduct can have a numbing effect on the subject.

But every so often we see a stark reminder of the true importance of trade secrets.

A U.S. businessman was recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for stealing trade secrets from Dupont that pertained to developing a white pigment. He sold these secrets to a Chinese company. He was convicted of 20 criminal counts, including economic espionage and trade secret theft. Once convicted, he received a 15-year prison sentence and a $28 million fine.

Never underestimate the seriousness of trade secrets.