Is stealing trade secrets something of this century? No, and the proof can be found in a 223-year-old diary of one of the founders of Royal Worcester porcelain. In this diary he confesses how he stole the secrets by spying on French potters.
The writer of the diary is John Flight, who had a factory Royal Worcester in the UK with his brother Joseph during the late 18th Century. The diary covers his journey to France during the French revolution. John Flight had to travel as the factory suffered from the competition in Europe and he had to learn the secrets of the competitors.
Finally, he got what he wanted as he stole the blueprints for manufacturing porcelain. With this new procedures he made his firm famous, with a Royal Warrant.
Nowadays, such procedures might be patented and stealing secrets and patent infringements would be prosecuted. Nevertheless, stealing secrets and procedures still happen frequently. One can say that a secret is to little for one, enough for two and too much for three.