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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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