Ex-AMD Workers at Nvidia Barred From Revealing Secrets

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. won a court order barring ex-employees who went to competing chipmaker Nvidia Corp. from disclosing trade secrets or soliciting former colleagues to join them.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman said in his order that AMD may win its lawsuit claiming misappropriation of confidential information, according to a filing yesterday in Worcester, Massachusetts.

AMD, based in Sunnyvale, California, accused ex-employees of taking sensitive company documents when they went to work for Nvidia. The former employees transferred more than 100,000 electronic files pertaining to AMD’s graphics-processor business in the days before their departure, AMD said in its complaint filed in January. The employees also allegedly recruited other AMD workers to leave the company.

“The circumstantial evidence presented by AMD is compelling,” Hillman said in his order. “They all made copies of confidential AMD information before leaving AMD, retained that information, and immediately began working at a significant competitor. AMD therefore has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits with regard to its claims for misappropriation of trade secrets.”

The preliminary injunction replaces a temporary restraining order granted after the suit was filed.

Protecting Information

“We are pleased that the court has issued a preliminary injunction against the four defendants,” Michael Silverman, a spokesman for AMD, said in an e-mail. “AMD will always protect its confidential, proprietary and trade secret information.”

Peter Mee, a lawyer for the defendants, declined to comment on the order.

AMD said that the transferred documents included confidential information, including licensing agreements with significant customers, proposed strategies concerning licensing, and technical information about new products and processes the company is developing.

Three of the former employees -- Robert Feldstein, Manoo Desai and Nicolas Kociuk -- transferred secret files to storage devices, according to the complaint. Feldstein, Desai and a fourth defendant, Richard Hagen, violated agreements to not solicit other employees for a period of time after leaving the company, AMD claims.

They all worked at AMD’s site in Boxborough, Massachusetts, according to the complaint.

Nvidia, based in Santa Clara, California, isn’t a defendant in the lawsuit.

The case is Advanced Micro Devices v. Feldstein, 13-cv-40007, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

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