One in four U.S. businesses are vulnerable to having their trade secrets stolen, according to Pavan Duggal, president of India-based cyber law consultancy cyberlaws.net and an advocate in the Supreme Court of India, who said the ongoing threat could cost the U.S. economy "billions rather than millions".
"There are no documented scientific figures but given the incidents that are being reported in the public domain, one out of four U.S. companies could be potentially exposed to this kind of problem," Duggal, told CNBC.
"This is a huge figure considering the size of the U.S. economy and considering the level of innovation in the US. This is not a millions game but a billions game," he added, referring to the economic impact of trade secret thefts s on the U.S. economy.
Duggal's comments follow criticism from the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) office that China has failed to tackle the growing theft of American trade secrets, first voiced at an advance briefing of the agency's annual report on countries with the worst records of protecting U.S. intellectual property rights.
(Read More: US Presses China to Stop Growing Trade Secret Theft)
Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis told CNBC on Thursday that growing theft of U.S. trade data by China was a "real and growing concern" for U.S. businesses.
"There has been a rise of misappropriation of trade secrets which is a real and growing concern," he said.
"We have been urging China to step up its enforcement of [the protection of] trade secrets and in some ways it is doing that…our concern is that it is not happening fast enough and we want to see more action both on the civil and the criminal side to ensure this issue is addressed properly," added Marantis.
Reports of cyber hacking and theft of trade secrets from U.S. companies and news organizations have escalated in recent months, now some experts say the USTR's decision to publicly speak out against China demonstrates the gravity of the situation.
"I think this is getting a bit more serious now," said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economics at HSBC. "The cyber-crime developments have received a lot of attention in the U.S. and the U.S. government needs to be seen to be doing something. So watch this space there could be more announcements. Rightly or wrongly the U.S. will probably take a firmer stance on these particular issues."