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A former Intel employee who quit to work for AMD has been indicted in trade secrets theft

A federal grand jury has indicted a former Intel employee whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has accused of stealing trade secrets from the company.

Biswamohan Pani, 33, allegedly was found with more than 100 pages of Intel documents, with 13 "top secret" file also discovered inside his residence.  Intel put more than $1 billion of research and development money into the documents Pani stole, which includes future CPU designs.

"The indictment was not a surprise," said Bradford Bailey, Pani's attorney.  "We knew it was coming.  We will enter a plea of not guilty when an arraignment date is set, and he will vigorously contest the charges because he is innocent."

Pani submitted his resignation at Intel in May 2008, and planned on working until June 11, but began working for Advanced Micro Devices on June 2.  When he started his job at AMD, he still had an Intel laptop and access to the internal Intel network.

During a search of his home in early July, the FBI found eight different documents that were classified as "secret," "top secret" and "confidential."  AMD did not request he steal the information or knew anything about his actions, the federal government believes.

"AMD has not been accused of wrongdoing, and the FBI has stated that there is no evidence that AMD had any involvement in or awareness of Mr. Pani's alleged actions," AMD said in a statement published by the Associated Press.

According to Pani, he took the files to help his wife work on a project, who is currently employed by Intel.  Intel quickly pointed out the files would have served no use for his wife.

Pani now faces four counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of trade secrets.  He faces up to 10 years on the single count of theft of trade secrets and up to 20 years for each count of wire fraud.



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Back-asswards, much?
By HaZaRd2K6 on 11/6/2008 8:26:02 PM , Rating: 5
So they can, if they want, put this poor sap away for ninety years on wire fraud and theft of trade secrets charges, but someone who goes on a killing rampage gets 25?

Yeah, that makes sense.




RE: Back-asswards, much?
By DanoruX on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: Back-asswards, much?
By quickk on 11/6/2008 9:40:57 PM , Rating: 5
So what you are saying is: a billion dollars > life?


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Ratwar on 11/6/2008 9:57:25 PM , Rating: 5
Basically, yes. I mean, for example, the EPA values the life of American Citizens at $6.9 million dollars (source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25626294/ ). If you believe the value of life is infinite, you haven't studied much risk management.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By ShaolinSoccer on 11/7/08, Rating: -1
RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Ratwar on 11/7/2008 1:18:11 AM , Rating: 5
So, are you going to hand me a pamphlet now, or what?


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By afkrotch on 11/7/2008 5:32:30 AM , Rating: 5
6.7 billion ppl in the world. A few ppl dying, no big deal in my book. Even if I died tomorrow, it won't have much affect on the world.

Now a single life might be worth more than any amount of money in the universe, but be worth completely nothing to someone else. Like if you have a child. Worth a lot more to you than to me.

Man puts a money value on everything. From a paper clip, to a human's life. Even their mental well being has a value placed upon it.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Cerberus90 on 11/7/2008 7:54:38 AM , Rating: 5
I wouldn't mind if the stupid paper clip died!

Keep popping up asking me if I want help writing a letter.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By paydirt on 11/7/2008 9:49:34 AM , Rating: 5
China regularly executes politicians and CEOs for much smaller thefts/damages. I think if it was done in the U.S., it certainly would set a tone. While perhaps not appropriate for this case... I do think that the Enron execs should have been executed. They caused billions of dollars worth of damages to people's life savings. I think that big players in mortgage fraud should hang and we could start at the ratings agencies who KNEW they were doing the wrong thing but did it anyway to make a buck. (they've admitted as much)


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By afkrotch on 11/7/2008 10:33:07 AM , Rating: 4
How about the lawyers that get thousands of dollars for thieves who hurt themselves on other's property, while breaking in. Sure wouldn't mind seeing them get hanged.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By dever on 11/7/2008 12:11:10 PM , Rating: 2
Enron is child's play compared to the politicians who have received large donations from Fannie & Freddie while protecting it from regulation and allowing them to disrupt the mortgage market. Why aren't they brought to prosecuted?


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By elgueroloco on 11/9/2008 11:56:24 AM , Rating: 3
I totally agree. All the guys, including the Congressman and Senators, who are responsible for this Fannie Mae collapse and economic crisis should be arrested and charged with terrorism. They have done more damage to our nation than Al Qaeda did on 9/11, excluding the loss of life.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By CommodoreVic20 on 11/9/2008 6:22:27 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. These guys make 9/11 seem like childs play.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Mclendo06 on 11/7/2008 12:54:24 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
If you believe the value of life is infinite, you haven't studied much risk management.

Okay. Allow me to pose a hypothetical question to you to attempt to place a value on your life.

***Disclaimer*** This question is completely hypothetical and in no way should be interpreted as a threat or genuine offer. It is merely intended to make a point regarding placing a monetary value on human life. (I really don't want the FBI busting down my door)

Start Hypothetical Question

How much money would I have to give you (you only, it could not go to anyone else) for you to allow me to end your life?

End Hypothetical Question


The point of the question is that to you, from the ethical standpoint of personal rights, the value of your life surpasses any possible monetary value.

However, if utilitarianism is the ethical basis you reason from, then yes, monetary value can be placed on a life based on the cost of preserving that life imposed on others (the reason that we don't build trillion dollar airbag-encased highways with cars that drive themselves perfectly). But an individual's life is priceless to that individual in relation to any value of money or material things. Generally other items of intangible value (other life, country, etc.) are the only things that an individual will willing give up their life for.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Solandri on 11/7/2008 7:05:15 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Start Hypothetical Question

How much money would I have to give you (you only, it could not go to anyone else) for you to allow me to end your life?

End Hypothetical Question

The point of the question is that to you, from the ethical standpoint of personal rights, the value of your life surpasses any possible monetary value.

That's not what it shows. Your question is structured so that it devalues money to where it is worthless. If you die, you can't use the money you receive, and so it becomes worthless. It doesn't show that life is priceless. It shows that after you die, money is worthless to you.

If you were to instead ask, "How much money would I have to give you for you to allow me to end your life in a year (or 10 years, or 50 years)?" you would get a better answer. Although it'd still be skewed because people by nature really suck at risk assessment (i.e. can't properly assess a certainty of dying in a year against the probability of dying within a year due to random chance).


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Pavelyoung on 11/7/2008 10:09:10 AM , Rating: 2
Well lets see, I estimate about $20 million transfered to my swiss bank account before you're allowed to touch me :)


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By amanojaku on 11/6/2008 10:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So what you are saying is: a billion dollars > life?

ANY amount of money is ALWAYS worth more than someone else's life! Alan Fishman shouldn't feel guilty that he made more money in three weeks at Washington Mutual than a bunch of laid off employees could hope to make in three years. And that AIG junket for the executives after the bailout? Hey, they deserved it! It's not THEIR fault the company is teetering on the brink of disaster.</sarcasm>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_H._Fishman
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aig


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Calin on 11/7/2008 2:22:41 AM , Rating: 2
100 pages worth a billion dollars.
How much is Intel worth? I'd say, based on what I imagine (and pull out of my behind), less than a stack of paper 6 feet tall.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By afkrotch on 11/7/2008 5:37:11 AM , Rating: 3
If AMD were to take those 100 pages and create processors that can easily topple even their latest offerings and Intel's marketshare, stocks, etcs start going down the drain, they can easily lose more than 1 bil. It would take a short while to recoup their loses.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By eyebeeemmpawn on 11/7/2008 7:38:47 AM , Rating: 2
A Billion dollars according to Intel. I can't really understand why intel still allowed him access to their network after he had left the company. I have read that he was still on the intel payroll and was using his remaining vacation time. If the information was that valuable, it seems to me that intel IT may have dropped the ball, allowing access to sensitive data to a defecting employee.

Something makes me suspect that this is being hyped to smokescreen the unfair trade practice cases. <flame shields on>


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By radializer on 11/7/2008 9:47:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A Billion dollars according to Intel. I can't really understand why intel still allowed him access to their network after he had left the company.


If you read the article, it states that he was scheduled to quit Intel on June 11 (and was probably not physically at work for the last 1~2 weeks using up his remaining vacation time - as you mentioned).

However, he started working for AMD on June 2 - at which point he was still an Intel employee, and this is the main issue. Traditionally, one wouldn't expect a company to yank your network access every time you go on vacation - you will have network privileges as long as you are an employee.

However, I agree that most companies in the tech sector seem to be more paranoid about such stuff (especially considering he had given notice of intent to leave) and I am surprised his access wasn't yanked anyway.

After all, it was Andy Grove who said that any company needs to have a healthy dose of paranoia.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By amandahugnkiss on 11/6/2008 9:03:09 PM , Rating: 1
Sentences are not designed to be 'fair' or compared to one another, they are a punishment intended to be severe enough to prevent subsequent similar behavior. The effects of his actions could affect the entire industry and the livelihood of everyone working in the field, stock holders, etc... so his sentence is most likely going to be pretty heavy.

BTW, where the fuck did everyone get the idea that life is or should be fair? It seems like everytime there's a cyber/tech criminal case everyone jumps up and down comparing it to unrelated crimes and bitching about how it isn't fair, it didn't hurt this or that, nobody was killed...


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By B on 11/6/2008 9:25:31 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, there is supposed to be a sense of fairness in crime and punishment, it is one of the basic tenets of our judicial system. The concept is called retributive justice. While this concept has waxed and waned over the years, it has always had a presence in our judicial system.

Here is a brief excerpt from Wikipedia to illustrate, "In ethics and law "Let the punishment fit the crime" is the principle that the severity of penalty for a misdeed or wrongdoing should be reasonable and proportional to the severity of the infraction. The concept is common to most cultures throughout the world."."


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By joeindian1551 on 11/6/2008 10:48:50 PM , Rating: 3
You need to consider where they will be spending their time.

Minimum security Federal white collar prison
vs.
Federal Pound me in the ass prison.


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By Rodney McNaggerton on 11/7/2008 12:34:54 AM , Rating: 2
+1 for your ulta "pound me in the ass" combo


RE: Back-asswards, much?
By archermoo on 11/7/2008 1:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
Except that you aren't comparing apples to apples. He could conceivably get 90 years based on the charges. Someone going on a killing spree could conceivably get consecutive life sentences for each count. Neither is particularly likely to happen though.


Let me get this straight...
By dflynchimp on 11/6/2008 7:35:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"The indictment was not a surprise,"


And the attorney claims innocense for his client? Pardon my planet, but if you were innocent why would be expect your former company to levy a suit at you? Intel hardly does anything frivolously (for frivolous, see: Jack Thompson).

In any case, even if he "accidentally" kept some of Intell's trade secrets, it should've been common sense that if you were leaving your old company, you don't try to take anything away from it and should turn over any old files/documents to prevent suspicion.




RE: Let me get this straight...
By jjmcubed on 11/6/2008 7:54:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
why would be expect your former company to levy a suit at you?


A Federal grand jury indicted him of these charges, not Intel. Also, since they searched his home in July, there was likely communication between the feds and his lawyer/him. Just my guess on the last part.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By Adonlude on 11/6/2008 8:20:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In any case, even if he "accidentally" kept some of Intell's trade secrets, it should've been common sense that if you were leaving your old company, you don't try to take anything away from it and should turn over any old files/documents to prevent suspicion.

There are tons of documents I would want to keep from my current company if I ever left. All my work, schematics, simulations, it all contains the knowledge I have gained since working here. Its like keeping your past tests and homework to study from when you were in school. No ill intent there.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By Regs on 11/6/2008 10:29:50 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know right now. I have too much sympathy for AMD right now I would make a horrible juror.

"So Mr.X you stole a milk bone from a 5,000 pound bear and gave it to a puppy dog? How dare you!"


RE: Let me get this straight...
By icanhascpu on 11/6/2008 11:41:03 PM , Rating: 1
Horrible juror?

I think 'commi' would fit you better.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By wud03 on 11/6/2008 11:51:58 PM , Rating: 2
LOL.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By Bryf50 on 11/6/2008 11:34:32 PM , Rating: 2
But the company was paying you to draw those schematics, and do those simulations. Wouldn't that make them the property of the company and not yours.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By cete on 11/7/2008 4:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree with you.

Your experience is what remains inside your head.
All documents you've ever produced while being hired to do so are the property of your employer, who paid you to make them.
My contracts with every company I've worked for make this issue crystal clear, and I never feel the need to take home any of my productions.
If I ever need, I can reproduce the work anyway, or even make it better.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By cunning plan on 11/7/2008 4:36:23 AM , Rating: 3
Theres a grey area here though dependant on profession.

Look at designers and the creative industry, you would be stupid not to build a portfolio of previous work. This requires taking the ideas you have done for say 'Adidas' and showing it to 'Nike' when pitching for a job or a breif.

However, I think the line is drawn at sensitive company information such as prototype products and figures etc. It is obvious that your present employer will not want that information to leave the building, let alone end up with a competitor.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By Solandri on 11/7/2008 7:14:04 AM , Rating: 2
The creative industry is based on a concept called work for hire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_for_hire

In exchange for wages (or commission), copyright and ownership of your creative work belongs to the hiring person/company, not you the creator. If Adidas declined to let you include in your portfolio the work you did for them, then you would have no right to show it to Nike.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By tmouse on 11/7/2008 7:45:36 AM , Rating: 2
Your absolutely correct in the work for hire concept in principle but in practice portfolios are an exclusion. The idea is certainly theirs and you cannot make money directly off the concept (i.e. apply the exact same marketing visuals in your new project), however any part that is publically published such as the ad; you most certainly can show the copy and take credit for it. Its moot since no company would ever ban someone from using a publically published work for hire as part of their portfolio this would effectively limit your ability to gain future employment. Although many companies have clauses that, in theory, could be used to do this; even in California courts have almost always struck down these clauses when challenged). Now they could not use it in a public exhibition for profit.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By ShaolinSoccer on 11/7/2008 12:14:47 AM , Rating: 2
And what about AMD? Does this mean they should also be sued if they use any of that technology that this guy supposedly shared with them?


RE: Let me get this straight...
By Aloonatic on 11/7/2008 5:15:37 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure how many people here follow Formula 1 but this seems to be similar to last season's Ferrari/MacLaren SpyGate nonsense.

Although in that case the ex-Ferrari employee went around touting the information to a couple of teams (Honda and MacLaren) and in the end I think some drawings and technical information were found on MacLaren's computers/network when they were searched, but most of the documents were at Stepney's (the ex-Ferrari Employee's) home.

In the end it was pretty difficult for anyone to prove that said information was used and MacLaren claimed that no-one looked at the information so they were fined by the sports governing body (and a few other sport specific things like showing the 2008 car didn't have a prancing horse on the front) but nothing happened in the courts.

They guy who walked out the door with the information on the other hand is in a little more trouble.

It seems that in these cases the individual is taking a massive risk and the corporation in receipt of the information can walk away without getting burned too badly as it's hard to prove that they used the information or solicited it in the first place.


RE: Let me get this straight...
By afkrotch on 11/7/2008 5:46:30 AM , Rating: 2
Need to prove that they used the information to create a product. AMD could have reversed engineered a C2D and created processors based on it, but patent infringement would have hit them.


By phxfreddy on 11/6/2008 11:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
I am an engineer. One guy + Documents does not get your that far. Overall strategy is much more useful....but that I think AMD can get pretty much at will.

Ever try to get a committee to keep a secret? Impossible. He should not have taken the stuff but realistically this charge does not hold water.




By afkrotch on 11/7/2008 6:10:24 AM , Rating: 2
Why wouldn't they be able to hit him with misappropriation. If he were smart, he should have returned anything Intel owned back to Intel before he started working at AMD.

I will agree that one guy and some documents wouldn't get AMD that far if they did have him get the documents. It'd be hard to make use of technology trade secrets in a constantly evolving field.

Kind of why Intel is doing their tick/tock strategy now. Trying to milk one type of technology for years on end doesn't work to well.


By aapocketz on 11/7/2008 9:59:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am an engineer. One guy + Documents does not get your that far. Overall strategy is much more useful....but that I think AMD can get pretty much at will. Ever try to get a committee to keep a secret? Impossible. He should not have taken the stuff but realistically this charge does not hold water.


I think it depends on the documents. I agree that its not like in the movies where you get a secret document and all of a sudden walk out your door with an Ironman suit or something.

Certain things cannot be patented easily, a chemical process for making high K dialectics for instance is hard to patent and even if you did, there is not much stopping the competition from modifying the design slightly and producing their own version. Those secrets can be quite valuable. Consider how fast the soviet union completed an atomic bomb after the US developed theirs? Many historians view it as greatly accelerated by soviet espionage efforts.


Classified? really?
By Chernobyl68 on 11/7/2008 11:07:38 AM , Rating: 2
Do these classifications mean anything if they're not goverment documents?




RE: Classified? really?
By abscoder on 11/7/2008 1:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
They mean something inside Intel. They outline, not just who can see things, but how they are stored, accessed, and destroyed. When I was writing software as a contractor for Intel, I saw an example of every classification except "Top Secret".


RE: Classified? really?
By Chernobyl68 on 11/7/2008 6:34:59 PM , Rating: 2
right - there are criminal penalties for stealing classified material - which these aren't really. So the charges have to be for another "brand" of theft - grand larceny for example.


This whole thing is farse.
By Integral9 on 11/7/2008 9:24:59 AM , Rating: 3
Seriously. Does anyone know why this guy was being searched? Seems rather suspicious to me.

Beyond that and based on this article, I don't see how this case will hold any more water than a coffee filter.




RE: This whole thing is farse.
By mrEvil on 11/7/2008 4:24:24 PM , Rating: 2
Based on reading this, I would say because (1) Intel did not cut off access (2) they found out he started working for AMD 9 days earlier than when we was supposed to leave Intel and (3) he logged in to Intel either during that time or sometime afterward.

What cracks me up in reading all of the comments is that people are actually using Wikipedia to back up some points. That is like quoting my 2 year old - only I know that my 2 year old does not know how to lie so every answer is right "in his world".


Everyone is missing the point
By Entropy42 on 11/7/2008 10:43:17 AM , Rating: 3
I think the real question here is why you would quit Intel to go work at AMD.

"Hmm, my ship is sailing too well, I think I'll go hop on that sinking one."

:-p




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