Former AMD employees accused of espionage and contract agreement violation
Earlier this week four former AMD employees were accused of espionage. According to legal documents the four were caught transferring sensitive AMD documents before joining competing graphics chip maker Nvidia. The company alleges that Robert Feldstein, Manoo Desai, and Nicolas Kociuk together downloaded over 100,000 files onto external hard drives in the six months before leaving the company.
All three and another manager, Richard Hagen, were also accused of recruiting AMD employees after leaving for Nvidia. Feldstein, who was the vice president of strategic development at AMD until his departure for AMD‘s competitor, allegedly transferred said AMD documents. In the next six months, the three defendants either did the same thing, violated ‘no-solicitation of employees’ promises, or both—all obvious violations of common law, statute, and/or contracts with AMD.
The full list of accusations against the four includes:
- Misappropriation of trade secrets
- Violation of unfair competition laws
- Computer fraud
- Breach of employee’s duty of loyalty
- Breach of contract
AMD says it forensically analyzed the former employees’ computers and found additional evidence that “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 chip maker asked for injunctive relief from the court in its complaint, hoping to recover the files. AMD also filed a restraining order against the four employees, which was granted. The order requires Feldstein, Desai, and Kociuk to retain all of their AMD property and preserve all computers in their ownership for forensic evaluation. Mr. Hagen was only ordered to refrain from recruiting any more AMD employees.
When asked to comment an NVidia said “Our policy is not to comment on pending legal matters.”
Alternately a rep from AMD had this to say, “AMD will always take action to aggressively protect its confidential, proprietary and trade secret information. 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.”
Nvidia hasn’t been named or sued directly, so it’s not clear if the company officially asked AMD’s employees to steal data or if they did so of their own volition. If NVidia did ask the employees to steal the documents in question, this could explode into a mass of litigation. At this point however, how Nvidia responds to the allegations will obviously effect what happens next and what actions AMD will take from there.