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AMD brings lawsuit against former employees alleged to have stolen documents

BusinessNews
by Chloe Albanesius, 18 Jan 2013News
AMD brings lawsuit against former employees alleged to have stolen documents

AMD has filed suit against four former employees, arguing that the group stole thousands of documents before leaving to go work for one of AMD's biggest rivals, Nvidia.

"This is an extraordinary case of trade secret/misappropriation and strategic solicitation," AMD said in the suit, which was filed this week in a Massachusetts district court.

"Thousands of AMD documents or electronic files have been taken from its facilities by employees leaving to work for its primary competitor in the graphics business, Nvidia," the firm added.

The controversy dates back to July 2012, the suit said, when Robert Feldstein left AMD.

"He transferred sensitive AMD documents, and in the next six months the remaining three defendants either did the same thing, violated 'no-solicitation of employees' promises, or both - all obvious violations of common law, statute, and/or contracts with AMD," AMD said in the suit, which was posted online by ZDNet.

AMD said it has evidence that Feldstein - as well as Manoo Desai and Nicolas Kociuk - transferred sensitive documents to an external storage device during their last days at AMD.

"The volume of materials...exceeds 100,000 electronic files," AMD said.

The documents in question include data that is "obviously" confidential and proprietary, AMD said.

Feldstein, for example, transferred licensing agreements with "significant" customers, a document that outlined AMD's licensing strategy, and the contents of his Outlook email account. Desai, meanwhile, transferred 200 files about "Perforce," an AMD internal database with details about confidential work. Kociuk is accused of transferring more than 150,000 files - "believed to be full copies of AMD laptops and desktop computers," AMD said - to an external hard drive.

AMD accused the fourth defendant, Richard Hagen, and Feldstein of recruiting Desai, who recruited Kociuk - and possibly others - to leave AMD to work for Nvidia, which violates "their agreements with AMD."

"AMD must take action to stop this conduct, which could unfairly affect the marketplace in a fast-paced, ultra-competitive, and highly sophisticated technical industry," the company said.

AMD has accused its former employees of misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, breach of contract, conspiracy, and more. The company is seeking a jury trial, injunctions, and damages.

AMD will be hoping the ongoing legal action doesn't distract from its operations in 2013, with the firm accused by some of foundering last year. At CES last week, it looked to kickstart its recovery by unveiling new processors and GPUs.

Last year, an ex-Intel engineer who pilfered valuable trade secrets from the company before leaving to take a job with archrival AMD copped to five counts of wire fraud. Biswamohan Pani left Intel in June 2008 and was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of that year for downloading files related to the chip maker's Itanium processor technology. He was later sentenced to three years in prison.

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