The business world is and has always been filled with horrific stories of Corporate Espionage, here are a few of the most notorious examples…

Cast your mind back a hundred years. What was business like? Was it more moral and gentlemanly than it is today? Did companies respect their competitors and keep their blows above the belt? Don’t kid yourself. The world of business and corporate espionage is still, and always has been, one filled with stories of skullduggery. Let’s take a look at some of the most notorious examples of businesses turned bad.

Opel Vs VW

Volkswagen is not a company known for it’s commitment to good business practices. But most people only remember the recent incident regarding emissions testing. What they forget is that the company has a seedy history that extends all the way back to the 1990s.

In the mid-1990s, VW and Opel were in a battle for market share. The competition was fierce between the two rivals who dominated the hatchback market. One day, almost out of the blue VW’s chief of production move to Opel. For any company, this would be bad news. After all, this guy had a lot of sensitive knowledge about VW’s operations stored up in his brain. But it wasn’t just the one executive who moved. He was followed by another seven. It wasn’t long before Opel was crying foul. Apparently, the company had lost a whole pile of documents related to the executives moving. Eventually, the case was settled. VW agreed to pay Opel $100 million and order a load more car parts from it. But VW didn’t apologize. In fact, they seemed quite happy with the outcome.

IBM Vs Hitachi

During the 1980s, Japan was experiencing a boom in its tech sector. Companies like Hitachi were growing fast. But they couldn’t match the performance of their American rivals, like IBM. During the preceding decade, IBM produced its now infamous Adirondack Workbooks. These contained the specifications of all its most advanced computers, as well as its corporate strategy. Mysteriously, Hitachi was able to procure these workbooks and set about using them to its advantage.

Once evidence that Hitachi had gotten hold of IBM designs turned up, IBM hired a detective agency. In conjunction with the FBI, they soon found the source of the leak. It was some of IBM’s own team, corrupted by offers of money from Hitachi. Hitachi agreed to settle for $300 million out of court.


You’d be surprised just how much technology and trade secrets go into making razor blades. It’s why companies that try to counterfeit Gillette razors never quite get it right. Any experienced shaver can immediately tell the difference.

This is why Gillette got so upset when an employee sent Gillette trade secrets to the company’s competitors. The employee leaked more than advice to “just add another blade.”  He leaked detailed information on how Gillette manufactured blades to the correct specs. The employee was only caught after a competitor reported him to Gillette. The company then sued, and the man spent more than two years in jail. He was also ordered to pay Gillette more than $1.3 million in damages.

Image sourced from Wikimedia

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