AMD alleges former managers copied 100,000 confidential files before joining Nvidia

AMD alleges former managers copied 100,000 confidential files before joining Nvidia

Summary: AMD believes that a former vice-president and three managers handed trade secrets to Nvidia, after they jumped ship to join a rival hardware-making firm.

TOPICS: Legal, Processors

Chipmaker AMD is taking four former employees to court, one former vice-president and three former managers from the firm's Boxborough plant, who left the company to go and work for rival Nvidia last year.


AMD believes that as they left the company, the four employees copied more than 100,000 confidential documents and trade secrets to take with them.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District of Massachusetts, claims former vice-president Robert Feldstein, along with managers Manoo Desai, Nicolas Kociuk and Richard Hagen, took the files before the four left the company. AMD wants to recover the files, which the company claims covers everything from upcoming AMD technology and contracts with large and enterprise customers.

Along with the lawsuit, the court also sanctioned a temporary restraining order against the four former employees, ordering the preservation of any copies of AMD materials they may have, any computers or devices they may own, and must not divulge or use any AMD confidential information. 

Feldstein left AMD in July, according to reports, after he helped broker major contracts to see AMD technology launch in the next-generation range of games consoles, including the Xbox, PlayStation, and the Wii U, before he left for Nvidia.

AMD said it had "uncovered evidence" that the four had "transferred to external storage devices trade secret files and information in the days prior to their leaving AMD to work for Nvidia."

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"The volume of materials that these three defendants collectively transferred to storage devices, each of which is unaccounted for, as they left to work for AMD's competitor exceeds 100,000 electronic files." AMD also said in the filing that the files "include obviously confidential, proprietary, and/or trade secret materials relating to developing technology and/or highly confidential business strategy."

Specifically, the filing notes that "three highly confidential files -- two licensing agreements with significant customers, and a document outlining proposed strategies to AMD's strategic licensing -- were transferred." If used by Nvidia, the chipmaker says, this would "provide an unfair advantage if improperly used or disclosed," it went on.

"Perforce," the name of an AMD internal database containing the AMD's technology and development of the company's process and product, were also added to external drives. This database contains more than 200 files, which have 'confidential' markings on them.

The chipmaker also alleges that one of the managers "ran several Internet searches about how to copy and/or delete large numbers of documents," which was then used to transfer the vast majority of the allegedly stolen files.

AMD claims the four were in breach of their contracts, trade secret laws and unfair competition laws, and violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

An AMD spokesperson told ZDNet in a statement that the company "will always take action to aggressively protect its confidential, proprietary and trade secret information." The spokesperson added:

We believe the facts are clearly outlined in our pleadings and are supported by forensic evidence. The pleadings are publicly available. Current and former AMD employees are contractually required to honor the ongoing confidentiality and non-solicitation obligations each agreed to while employed with us. As this case is now in litigation, we have no further comment at this time.”

The lawsuit can be found as follows:

The restraining order can be found as follows:

Topics: Legal, Processors

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  • Useless information.

    I really doubt that nVidia could use any of that information, unless they plan on researching how to manufacture power supply killing power consuming GPU's. nVidia has been ahead of the game for years now.
    • You're ignorant

      What a completely ignorant thing to say.

      AMD and Nvidia GPU's have about the same TDP's. Also AMD currently has the fastest single GPU video card.

      Nvidia is not ahead of AMD. You claims are baseless and incorrect.

      Please learn something about the desktop market before opening your mouth and displaying such astounding ignorance.
      Matthew Nichols
      • Your blatantly lying

        AMD TDP far surpasses that of Nvidia's. The reference of note would be the 7970 having a TDP of 250watts, and the GTX 680 having a TDP of 190 watts. Within these same specifications, Nvidia's GTX680 has been able to surpass and match AMD's flagship HD 7970 at every level.

        Any moron would know these simple facts.
        • Umm?

          7970 is faster - and with dynamic power management, this is a non issue these days. So who is factually false now?
  • Seems legit

    NEver really thought about it like that.
    Todd Diamond
  • Amd that's why companies should be locking their USB ports with a GPO

    I work in a company that simply locks out USB access so things like these don't happen.

    AMD will learn.
  • AMD will wind up being sued.

    What made those 4 people leave AMD in the first place? AMD is clearly agonizing. USB drives with Perforce repository? Employees were making sure they returned all files to the company. The case is a joke. On the other hand, Feldstein has so much to spill on the fan, without disclosing anything "technical" or "confidential", that AMD may end up paying the settlement for political silence of its ex-employees.
    • AMD wil not be sued

      Engineers and professionals in these fields typically sign contracts to work for 2-10 years. At the end of their contracts they bid themselves out to the technology market. Your assumption that they quit or where fired or that working for AMD is agonizing is disturbing. What would you know about what it is like to work for AMD. You obviously know nothing about the work engineers do there and how they work. So why would you make such a comment? Oh, I see you're some sort of Nvidia GPU fanboy. Well congrats for your cognitive dissonance.

      Engineers commonly switch companies at the end of contracts and these professionals can easily take trade secrets to the other side. If it is allowed to happen, one or two people can effectively destroy a company and competition. Why you think such acts are OK for anyone is a testament to ignorance and fanboyism.

      You're disturbing.
      Matthew Nichols
      • someone didn't read the court documents

        some of the "charges" AMD allege relate to persons mentioned recruiting other persons mentioned, also clearly states Mr Kociuk resigned. Is pretty clear all worked for graphics department as 3/4 had ATI contracts (and all went or are going to Nvidia). Sounds more like the jumped shipped before being hit with AMD cutbacks to their staff levels and went to work for a company that actually takes graphics cards seriously. (and i can see AMD being little butthurt by that)