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Print 19 comment(s) - last by Bateluer.. on Jan 17 at 11:26 PM

Employees allegedly stole 100,000+ documents to give to NVIDIA

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), one of the world's two largest PC graphics card manufacturers has filed an eye-catching lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts which implicates four of its former employees and its chief rival NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) in a stunning theft of intellectual property.

Attorneys for AMD write, "This is an extraordinary case of trade secret transfer/misappropriation and strategic employee solicitation."

AMD says former executive Robert Feldstein, who left AMD to join NVIDIA in July 2012, masterminded the scheme by illegally taking with him a number of AMD files and electronic documents.  The filing claims that Mr. Feldstein was then assisted by three other employees -- Manoo Desai, Nicolas Kociuk, and Richard Hagen -- who also jumped shipped to NVIDIA last summer.

Mr. Feldstein had been a key figure at AMD, negotiating for the company's game console business unit.  Thanks to his work AMD achieved hegemony in the gaming console market with contracts from Microsoft Corp. (MSFTfor the Xbox, from Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) for the PlayStation, and from Nintendo Comp., Ltd.'s (TYO:7974) for the Wii U.

Robert Feldstein
AMD's Robert Feldstein, once a key employee at the chipmaker now stands accused of stealing thousands of documents from his former employer. [Image Source: NokyTech]

In total, AMD claims that over 100,000 of its documents were stolen and transfered to electronic storage devices (e.g. external hard drives or USB sticks).

AMD lawsuit by Zack Whittaker



The filing states that forensic analysis of the defendants' computers revealed, "Desai and Kociuk conspired with each other to misappropriate AMD's confidential, proprietary, and/or trade secret information; and/or to intentionally access AMD's protected computers, without authorization and/or in a way that exceeded their authorized access."

According to ArsTechnica, AMD's request for a restraining order was granted.  The order prevents the accused employees from destroying files on the machines in their investigation (hence obstructing the investigation) and prevents them from poaching other employees.  AMD is aiming to retrieve the files and property and likely hold the employees liable to civil (monetary) (and possibly criminal) penalties.

It is unclear what role NVIDIA played in the theft.  While the suit does not list NVIDIA as a defendant, if NVIDIA accepted the stolen documents or participated in the employee poaching, it could be held liable to civil lawsuits.  We'll keep you up to date as this story develops.

Sources: Scribd, ArsTechnica



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Interesting.
By txDrum on 1/16/2013 1:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully it doesn't become another Apple vs. Samsung.

But what really confused me was reading that the executive had been assassinated, not assisted. I had to do a double take...




RE: Interesting.
By Topweasel on 1/16/2013 2:08:16 PM , Rating: 5
It would be much larger issue then Apple v. Samsung. Apple is accusing Samsung of using their public idea's and designs to design something similar and just is a normal patent and trademark issue. This is corporate espionage, and even if Nvidia had no idea this was happening, if any of this information was used in creating its current offerings it could be devastating. Immediate shut down in production, huge settlement, scrapping of devices in development, and probably AMD oversight on future production.

All of this can happen in a Apple v. Samsung type case but its much harder because being like is a lot different then dealing then built an designed on proprietary information and trade secrets. It's why Pepsi immediately called the FBI when someone offered them the Coke recipe.


RE: Interesting.
By chrnochime on 1/16/2013 5:16:55 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like this isn't going to turn out well for Nvidia even in the best case scenario.


RE: Interesting.
By kingmotley on 1/16/2013 5:28:39 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
All of this can happen in a Apple v. Samsung type case but its much harder because being like is a lot different then dealing then built an designed on proprietary information and trade secrets.


This sentence made my head hurt. I'm trying to figure out what kind of encryption was used on it.


RE: Interesting.
By Trisped on 1/17/2013 6:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All of this can happen in a Apple v. Samsung type case but its much harder because being like is a lot different then dealing then built an designed on proprietary information and trade secrets.
Should read:
All of this can happen in a Apple v. Samsung type case, but it is much harder because "being like" is a lot different "then built and designed on proprietary information and trade secrets".

The author is saying that there are similarities between the Apple vs Samsung case and the potential (suit does not yet name nVidia) AMD vs nVidia case, but that the AMD vs nVidia case will most likely be much more extreme.

Apple's case against Samsung boils down to "their product looks like ours". These cosmetic infringements can are usually easy to remove.

If AMD sues nVidia, then the case would become "Their product is built on our technology". If AMD wins on these issues then nVidia might be required to:
- Forfeit a % of the revenue from the infringing products to AMD.
- Stop selling the infringing products.
- Redesign any products being developed which would infringe.


RE: Interesting.
By Bateluer on 1/17/2013 11:26:28 PM , Rating: 2
[quote]
If AMD sues nVidia, then the case would become "Their product is built on our technology". If AMD wins on these issues then nVidia might be required to:[/quote]

If AMD's tech shows up in Nvidia's future products, the case could expand to that, I imagine.


RE: Interesting.
By Captain Orgazmo on 1/16/2013 5:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
Just about any job for an engineering or tech company these days makes you sign a contract that makes you liable for any theft if IP, and states that any invention you come up with while working for the company belongs to them. This idiot is gonna lose his shirt! NVIDIA will probably lose some money too, but the biggest losers by far will be greedy Feldstein and his 3 moronic pawns. (I'm sure NVIDIA knew what was going on, and I'm pretty sure they aren't stupid enough to use anything from AMD directly in their products... but you never know).


RE: Interesting.
By Samus on 1/16/2013 10:06:15 PM , Rating: 3
Indeed. I just read the scrib'd; I'm no lawyer, but it appears nVidia is screwed. There is a mound of evidence showing IP was leaked, and it won't be hard for engineers to determine if this IP made it into Kepler, etc.


RE: Interesting.
By bug77 on 1/17/2013 4:23:45 AM , Rating: 2
Well, you didn't pay any attention when you read: those guys were working in the consoles branch.


RE: Interesting.
By Trisped on 1/17/2013 6:14:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Desai and Kociuk conspired with each other to misappropriate AMD's confidential, proprietary, and/or trade secret information; and/or to intentionally access AMD's protected computers, without authorization and/or in a way that exceeded their authorized access .
The article does not state what department Manoo Desai, Nicolas Kociuk, and Richard Hagen where in.

Even if they were in the consoles branch it does not mean they did not get access to sensitive data which would be of value when creating a GPU.


RE: Interesting.
By chick0n on 1/16/2013 10:45:33 PM , Rating: 2
stop talking when u cant even use the word "than/then" properly ...


RE: Interesting.
By BillyBatson on 1/16/2013 11:25:54 PM , Rating: 1
Is he writing the article for DT or just posting as an average guy? Deal with grammar mistakes.


RE: Interesting.
By maugrimtr on 1/17/2013 8:39:08 AM , Rating: 2
You stop talking until you learn to spell properly first...


Do digital restraining orders work?
By Mint on 1/16/2013 5:29:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The order prevents the accused employees from destroying files on the machines in their investigation (hence obstructing the investigation) and prevents them from poaching other employees.
How exactly do you stop someone from deleting files or know that they did? Isn't it really easy to cover up your tracks when doing so?




By JasonMick (blog) on 1/16/2013 5:55:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How exactly do you stop someone from deleting files or know that they did? Isn't it really easy to cover up your tracks when doing so?
Possibly. They've probably searched and inventoried the suspects' residences/vehicles and if any hard drives magically have holes drilled in them or have mass random writes to cover up former files, investigators will know data destruction occurred. Less extreme deletion efforts will likely be uncovered as well and reversed via simple recovery utilities.

I'm sure the systems will be carefully inspected during the trial.


By mugiebahar on 1/16/2013 6:09:30 PM , Rating: 2
I agree in that asertation but you have to be a bit more clever to cover your tacks. Which I dont think these guys are, as they have been caught. It's funny nowadays people look @ you stupid if you have paper files thinking that's so easily to be caught with. But because of digital traces, it's extremely hard to wipe our digital foot print. It can be done, but to do it is very hard because the way drives write, and erasing only takes the headers away. All the info is still there. You would have to use a scrubber program and a few other thins to really make It go away. And there is other aspects that don't get erased unless you specify certain things. But as I said these guys don't seem to inept to the fact they already seem to be in hot water, lol.


By Mitch101 on 1/16/2013 11:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
No. Most likely they discovered the breach long before they took action allowing them to monitor their actions for some time and to discover all guilty parties. Ive done a few investigations for companies its sometimes best not to jump at the first sign and monitor the situation. The more a criminal commits a crime without an immediate response the more comfortable they are to commit the crime over and over again to a point where they feel invincible and begin to make careless mistakes thinking no one is watching or capable of catching them. By then you have a solid case. It’s really not that difficult if you know where to look. In most organizations Ive worked for you can easily go back 7 years or more and that every e-mail, website, Instant Message, system accessed, etc. Along the way you find the idiots you go to job sites, e-mail resumes, try mis-spelling words to work around filters, even compress files and embed info in graphics and such thinking they are getting away with it. You would be amazed and how many people e-mail their resumes from their current job or even fax them thinking no one sees them.


Hmm
By kyuuketsuki on 1/16/2013 6:51:45 PM , Rating: 2
This will be an interesting case to follow. I wonder if AMD really has some indisputable evidence of this, or if they just suspect it and are slinging charges to see if they stick.




Minor Correction
By Fritzr on 1/17/2013 2:26:25 AM , Rating: 1
Para 3, last line
who also jumped shipped to NVIDIA last summer.
->who also jumped ship to NVIDIA last summer.




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