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.

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.

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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

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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