The enemies of freedom paint businessmen as corrupt, greedy, and willing to do whatever it takes to win, even it means screwing over a competitor. There is some evidence in their favor. Enron being the most prominent example, but, as this story about corporate espionage in the soft drink industry indicates, there is plenty of evidence on the other side as well.
The FBI arrested three people in Atlanta yesterday on charges that they conspired to steal trade secrets from Coca-Cola Co. and sell the information for more than $1.5 million to PepsiCo Inc., federal law enforcement officials said.
The defendants, including one Coca-Cola employee, who worked as an administrative assistant in the company’s Atlanta headquarters, contacted PepsiCo officials in May, who tipped off Coca-Cola officials, who then contacted the FBI, according to Atlanta U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, whose fierce rivalry in the soft-drink and food arena has provided case studies for generations of marketing students, worked together to help federal agents set up an undercover sting operation that led to yesterday’s arrests.
“I would also like to express our sincere appreciation to PepsiCo for alerting us to this attack,” [Coca-Cola President E. Neville Isdell] said.
Dave DeCecco, spokesman for Pepsi-Cola North America, said: “We only did what any responsible company would do. Competition can sometimes be fierce, but it also must be fair and legal.”
Of course, it was in Pepsi’s interests to report this and cooperate in the investigation. They have as many trade secrets as Coke does, and they need to be protected. And, they would have as much to worry about from an employee selling those secrets for money.
But, to follow the logic of the anti-capitalists, Pepsi should have taken advantage of this situation and taken advantage of Coca-Cola. Because that, after, is what capitalists do, isn’t it ?