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Ask HN: Reporting Corporate Misconduct?
2 points by throwaway_qq 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments
I've got a bit of a dilemma that I'd appreciate some advice on.

In the course of doing market research for a startup (part-time - I have a small amount of equity but don't get paid otherwise), I discovered that a competitor plagiarized at least one of their white-papers from a published academic article. It's pretty unambiguous - entire paragraphs lifted. This competitor was acquired by a larger company in an adjacent space by the time I discovered this. Making matters even trickier, this larger company had at one point for a partnership and/or acquisition.

Now the acquiring company is, due to the acquisition, competing with us.

If someone who had no conflicts of interest had discovered this, what would be the most responsible method of disclosing this, and to who? I want to understand what the general practice is in this kind of situation, so as to avoid tainting the accusation with the appearance of self-interest. Telling potential clients or partners about it, especially those who are doing business with other company, seems like it would be looked upon poorly even though the information is accurate. Telling the other company about their baggage is another alternative, but there are a lot of ways that could go wrong too. Doing nothing doesn't seem right, but it may very well be the best choice from an ethical perspective, if not from a financial one. I want to make sure we do the right thing!

All advice appreciated. I'm happy to answer further questions about the situation as long as they don't go into too much detail.






Doesn't sound like you have standing, but the original academics who authored the original article do.

They might could care less, or they may send a cease & desist, takedown, or more aggressive action.

If you just reach out to them, no matter what happens, you did the right thing, and hopefully it'll bring the competitor down the right way.


    Doing nothing doesn't seem right, but it may 
    very well be the best choice from an ethical 
    perspective
I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see a good argument for holding your tongue. If your competitor is illegally taking credit for someone else's work, that's their own fault. I would at least notify the original authors.



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