Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

AMD Files Suit Against Former Employees For Alleged Document Theft

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the corporate-espionage-never-goes-out-of-style dept.

AMD 72

New submitter massivepanic writes "AMD has filed (and been granted) a request for immediate injunctive relief against multiple former employees that it alleges stole thousands of confidential documents. Named in the complaint (PDF) are Robert Feldstein, Manoo Desai, Nicholas Kociuk, and Richard Hagen. All four left AMD to work at Nvidia in the past year. The loss of Feldstein was particularly noteworthy, as he'd been the head of AMD's console initiatives for years. Feldstein was behind the work that landed AMD the Wii U, PS4, and Xbox Durango. He also worked closely with Microsoft during the Xbox 360s development cycle and brought that contract to ATI prior to AMD's acquisition."

cancel ×

72 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Defection (2)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600223)

Whether for political or monetary reasons, for governments or companies, it's a very, very, very old game

Re:Defection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600247)

Whether for political or monetary reasons, for governments or companies, it's a very, very, very old game

Could you say that these employees were...
Defective?

Re:Defection (1)

ButchDeLoria (2772751) | about a year and a half ago | (#42606805)

Defective like a tri-core processor.

Re:Defection (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600253)

I might not understand your comment, but if I pay you to write code for my company, and we have a contract stating that it will be my code (and moreover, it will NOT be your code)... how exactly is that not my code? And if you then take that code to your new job, why exactly is it wrong that I sue you?

What other recourse do I have?

Re:Defection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600415)

I might not understand your comment, but if I pay you to write code for my company, and we have a contract stating that it will be my code (and moreover, it will NOT be your code)... how exactly is that not my code? And if you then take that code to your new job, why exactly is it wrong that I sue you?

You cannot own what is in another person's head.

What other recourse do I have?

Don't hire.

Re:Defection (2)

dshk (838175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601013)

You cannot own what is in another person's head.

Sorry, but this thinking is either boresome or nitpicking. Yes, you cannot own thoughts. Yes, you cannot transfer authorship of said software. Have this any relevance to the post? No. You can do transfer each and every right related to the usage of that software. You will always be named as the author, but you can not do anything with that software at all without the permission of your employer.

Re:Defection (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42601923)

I'm sorry, I guess when I read that they "Stole confidential documents" that it implied that they actually, you know, took some documents.

Re:Defection (1)

halltk1983 (855209) | about a year and a half ago | (#42602245)

About 100,000 of them. Using USB drives. Over a period of 6 months. There's definitely some intentional shenanigans and possibly corporate espionage going on here.

Re:Defection (2)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600261)

Whether for political or monetary reasons...

Aren't they the same utimately?

Re:Defection (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601283)

Haha, no. They can be somewhat divorced from each other, at times.

Politics is usually a form of power (that is, the power of the palace, the power over small matters of law, a form of power over people), and money is money (an easily exchangeable resource for most other kinds of resources). People typically use politics to get money, or money to enter into politics. It's possible to be extremely wealthy, but not at all powerful; it's also possible to be extremely powerful, but utterly destitute. Rare, mind you, but it happens often enough to prove they are separate.

In both cases, you're dealing with humanity (thus far, other sentient species...we do not know yet), but in different ways. And in both cases, they are a result of humans being such a weak species: they need to band together to accomplish the simplest of tasks, and care far too much about their place in the group's hierarchy for a sentient species. They imagine themselves being like the bonobos, because the reality that they are like the baboons is simply too much for them.

Re:Defection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600281)

At least litigation is a bit less nasty then the very, very old solution for dealing with defectors. ;)

I kinda doubt it here (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600545)

The thing is companies don't usually want to play that sort of game in situations like this because the chance to get sued is too high. They'll often help each other stop it. A dude tried to sell Coke's recipe to Pepsi, Pepsi called the FBI.

Goes double here, since nVidia seems to have the superior technology as of late. AMD's GPUs aren't bad, but they aren't as high performance as nVidia's parts, and their drivers are not as polished. There just isn't any magic juju that nVidia would want to steal, particularly given the risks.

My guess is this isn't an orchestrated defection. My guess is it is one of two things:

1) Some morons figured that they could make it big doing this, stole the documents on their own, and went over to nVidia. Perhaps this is even a result of a tip from nVidia.

2) This is a smokescreen on AMD's part, to try and keep these guys away from nVidia.

I just don't find it likely that nVidia would buy them off to do this. Too much to lose, not enough to gain. While they might want the people, which is totally legal, the tech isn't worth the risk.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600893)

My guess is this isn't an orchestrated defection. My guess is it is one of two things:

1) Some morons figured that they could make it big doing this, stole the documents on their own, and went over to nVidia. Perhaps this is even a result of a tip from nVidia.

2) This is a smokescreen on AMD's part, to try and keep these guys away from nVidia.

I just don't find it likely that nVidia would buy them off to do this. Too much to lose, not enough to gain. While they might want the people, which is totally legal, the tech isn't worth the risk.

I've worked with 2 of those people in my past life. One thing I'll say for sure is that these are absolutely no morons we're talking about. #2 is clearly the case. I remember the HR legal debrief person during the exit interview is a complete dick, making threats even though you have done nothing wrong, with all the scare tactics BS, asking over and over again if you were going to be joining NVidia. They try whatever they could to find out who you were going to be working for, even though you have complete right not to disclose. The guy did mention at one point that "it's a free country and you can work anywhere in the world you want". Yeah, sure, do I really need you to tell me that, jerk!? They're panicking because these are key people with years of experience at a company joining a rival.

Now I'm wondering if these people get fired by NVidia, maybe they should work as 3rd party contractors, consulting for NVidia just to mess with AMD.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42602665)

Our former lives are very similar!

In fact I was recently offered a job by one at NVidia!

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42602883)

Our former lives are very similar!

That shouldn't be a surprise. After all, you both have the same name. Perhaps we are all just alter egos of each other?

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42603803)

Work laws and rights are very interesting, and vary significantly from state to state, and are also dependent upon your employment agreement, level in the company, etc. Considering the level of at least some of these folks, it can very well be that going to Nvidia for 'X' time is illegal by contract. Even if it isn't, depending upon the state, AMD can make it extremely unpleasant if they try to work at Nvidia prior to their contractual non-compete (I'm making the assumption they have a non-compete, every tech company I've seen does). The short story - odds are they will be prevented from working for Nvidia for 'x' time, at the least, nor will they be allowed to contact Nvidia. I do speak from personal experience on this one, employment lawsuits can be very painful and are not to be entered lightly, by either side. The loser can wind up paying, which is why I'm not overly bitter.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42606585)

Non-competes are paper tigers. They're difficult to enforce.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year and a half ago | (#42614859)

Given that they were likely laid off I wonder if any non-compete clause would hold water. AMD has been hemorrhaging money and cutting down the work force so quickly these guys were probably just one of the casualties. What would you expect them to do but get work elsewhere? There are not a lot of companies working in this area. It was either NVIDIA or Intel.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42604253)

I worked for one of these people, and I would agree with you. While you can never really know what people are capable of, this person did not strike me as someone who was ethically ambiguous, or motivated by money at the expense of integrity. Quite the opposite, actually, this person was always very conservative about doing things that were not according to the book I'm quite surprised to see their name on this injunction, hope they are cleared of any wrongdoing.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

Funk_dat69 (215898) | about a year and a half ago | (#42604441)

Did you RTFA?

"The named defendants ran Google searches for how to copy and delete large numbers of documents. Over 150,000 documents related to AMD desktop and laptop design were transferred before Kociuk turned in his resignation to AMD."

All of what you said may be true, and AMD smokescreening is of course part of it, but DAMN, these guys are screwed.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42607939)

So these guys - responsible for producing top notch GPUs had to do google searches to figure out how to copy files to a usb key? I smell something fishy. What did they even search for? "how do I copy large numbers of docuemnts?" Google said: Just like you copy 2 documents. ctrl-a, ctrl-c, find usb key, ctrl-v

ZOMG corporate espionage!

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42608601)

In all likelihood, AMD has a DLP solution in place. Those things can give nauseating levels of detail about what you're doing with company assets. The complaint reads like they have specific events recorded. I think the Google search thing is just icing on the cake. I agee with teh GP, these guys are screwed,

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616179)

You totally ignored the post you replied to.

These guys are some of the brightest minds in the industry. You seriously think that they need Google to hand-hold them on something as basic as secure data destruction?

This lawsuit stinks.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42608519)

Problem for the defendants is that it looks like AMD has hard specific evidence of confidential information transferred to removable storage, in excess of their authority, and just before they jumped ship to a competitor. I think this is going to to very badly for all involved.

As a person responsible for data loss prevention at my company (in the same industry) I'm considering going to HR to make sure we never hire these people if they're convicted.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616395)

I'm not saying you shouldn't go to HR and tell them, but any HR department worth its salt will do at least a rudimentary background check that picks up on recent arrests and convictions. If you *have* to tell them then it means they're not doing their job.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (3, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600913)

Nonsense. AMD's GPUs tend to be high performance parts. Anyone looking at their performance can easily see this.

Nvidia, though, does tend to have better drivers; AMD/ATI, better hardware.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42601107)

nvidia drivers better? AMD drivers have more features and less DRM.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42601421)

I'm never buying any nvidia, after they shafted consumers with that BGA disaster. Complete anus-holes.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601647)

nvidia , oh so many bugs, or is it their hardware is buggy?

Do I really have to buy a new card every 6 months, because new drivers expose more old hardware bugs or fail to be checked against older cards?

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600979)

Nvidia absolutely would "want" the documents, you can't deny that. People do this all the time also.
They don't expect to be caught because they figure it's small fries.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (3, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601149)

I don't know about the high performance cards, but a HD7770 can run circles around the similarily priced GTX650 cards. Same story with HD7750 and GT640.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601531)

I don't know about the high performance cards, but a HD7770 can run circles around the similarily priced GTX650 cards.

Anyone that can run the HD 6850 will do so over either the GTX 650 or the HD 7770 because its only a few bucks more than either and beats both in performance.

This is an awkward spot in the market for consumers because for the TDP budget that the GTX 650 and HD 7770 target you really cannot get much higher performance at any dollar cost. In that regard, these are top-shelf flagship products that just happen to cost only $100.

The HD 7770 uses 32% more power than the GTX 650, so its not really a surprise that it performs better. What is a surprise is that it doesnt perform so much better as to be the obvious choice.

The GTX 650 is 64 watt TDP while the HD 7770 is 80 watt TDP.

The HD 6850 that easily beats both and is only slightly more expensive than either is 127 watts TDP.

The market for these two cards isn't the performance per dollar market.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601785)

Well, let's take HD7750 into account. Almost as fast as GTX650, lower power consumption and there are several passive cooled HD7750 cards out there.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42605989)

Well, let's take HD7750 into account. Almost as fast as GTX650, lower power consumption and there are several passive cooled HD7750 cards out there.

Yes, 55 watts vs 64 watts, and almost as fast. But the 650 is almost as fast as the 7770.

Using the passmark GPU rating, and current NewEgg cheapest price:

HD 7770 - 2133 - $115 - 80W TDP
GTX 650 - 1809 - $110 - 64W TDP
HD 7750 - 1577 - $90 - 55W TDP

The passmark rating per watt for each respectively is 26.7, 28.3, 28.7
The passmark rating per dollar for each respectively is 18.5, 16.4, 17.5

All of these are basically right in line with each other, give or take a smidgen, and all have passively cooled variants. Above these is a big jump in TDP and quite often cost as well. I've been eying the price of cards like these for quite some time as a possible noise and performance upgrade for my aging 8800 GT (105W TDP)

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42602215)

At that price (~$120) you are comparing low-end value. I think you need to compare the GTX 690, 680, 670, in various SLI configs with the equivalent top 3 high-end AMD cards (7950? 7970?) in various X-Fire configs.

Otherwise we're having a discussion about who makes better cheap stuff -- which is fine, but irrelevant to the performance/enthusiast tier.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42601245)

Wrong.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107-7.html

Link - Tom's Hardware best graphics cards for the money December 2012. Shows a hierarchy of notable graphics cards.

Re:I kinda doubt it here (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601861)

Superior? Can I have what you're smoking? The ONLY place where Nvidia is even or a little ahead is in the uppermost "no matter what the cost make it so" tier which frankly isn't worth as much as you think, because the vast majority won't spend $500+ on a GPU so they can be the top of some leaderboard a good 99% of the planet doesn't even know exists.

You see even in that top tier nvidia doesn't make as much because somebody at AMD had a brilliant idea when they bought ATI. They looked at the books and saw that a good 85% of the sales were right smack dab in the middle of the curve but they were spending most of their money to get to the extreme right of the curve and said "Hey this is stupid, design for the middle, add more chips to get to the right". So now instead of spending the crazy money like Nvidia does making an "uber" chip and then figuring out how they can cut it down to fit the mainstream and value markets AND at the same time figure out how to salvage the failed chips to use in lower tiers AMD simply designs a $200 chip that is easy to manufacture and easy to simply turn off some cores either in hardware or software to fit the lower tiers, and just add another core to fit the higher tier.

It is THIS reason why AMD ended up pulling a hat trick when it comes to the next gen consoles, if they would have went Nvidia even if they bought a mid tier chip they would have had this big bulky thing because Nvidia builds monster chips and cuts them down, whereas with AMD they could buy a mid tier chip that is designed to be a mid tier chip from the ground up, this equals less waste, less heat, less space, and less cost. So while AMD will keep putting out new X2s just to take the crown for a while each rev they will make more money than Nvidia because its simply easier to make a mid tier chip cover all tiers than it is to build an uber chip and scale it down.

Re:Defection (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42607871)

Is it really defection, given that employees aren't citizens of corporations and don't give loyalty oaths?

Smoke screen (4, Interesting)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600255)

Either those guys were amazingly stupid, in which case they deserve what's coming, or AMD is throwing a smoke screen at the crowd to stop those dudes from producing work for nVidia. Time shall tell.

Re:Smoke screen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600347)

The lawsuit is standard Silicon Valley FUD.

When I was at ATI, we were being sued by SGI because too many ex-SGI employees had come to work at ATI (and nVidia, who was also being sued).

I know dozens of ex-AMDers now at nVidia, Intel and Apple designing competing products to what they previously worked on.

These lawsuits never amount to anything more than PR battles and big fees for lawyers.

Re:Smoke screen (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600367)

"and big fees for lawyers"

which AMD cant afford as it gets closer to the drain

Re:Smoke screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42602147)

When several employees leave on short term, someone usually notices and starts poking around why they are leaving. In an attempt to hide the stupidity, justify their own raises and explain why they didn't give raises to the ex-employees, management will fabricate tales, an example:

Manager: Those employees weren't really that valuable.
Poking around guy: Than why are we in so much shit now?
M: The bastards didn't properly document what they were doing!
P: You let them work on important projects, core to the organization without documentation? You have no plan in place for when they leave/get hit by a bus??
M: They stole the plans, the bastards stole thousands of confidential documents!!! ...

Re:Smoke screen (1)

halltk1983 (855209) | about a year and a half ago | (#42602393)

I'm pretty sure that a manager's speech doesn't equate to "forensic evidence" which gives a number and method for the documents. Also, these were managers and a VP that left. Not developers.

Re:Smoke screen (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42603751)

Yeah well, the dudes could just as well have made back-ups of their work documents onto some device and not take the device with them when they left. Or maybe they did. We'll see.
Forensics will still flag the activity in either case.

Re:Smoke screen (1)

Specter (11099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42608681)

Even backing up to removable storage can be (and often is when talking about confidential documents) a violation of company policy. There's a reason they want you using your corporate backup solution and not USB drives. This is one of those reasons.

Re:Smoke screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42604731)

In other words,
replace poking around guy buy major share holder and manager with CEO

Re:Smoke screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42604753)

AMD have to prove the allegation. More specifically, they have to prove these former employees downloaded data and took the storage off-premises. And that must be against rules these employees signed before they took the job.

I am working in a large corpo and I do backups on CDs all the time, because the department thinks it can't afford the corporate data center backup service. The CDs don't leave the campus, though. But certainly they could trump up some claims based on records from the PC, if they had surveillance-ware installed. Then my word would stand against their allegations. I would explain it to authorities and essentially nothing would happen.

Maybe these guys did exactly the same as I did. Corporate IT can be fucked up for lots of reasons and maybe they just made a backup.

787 IFE (BA) smoke on an ANA 787 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600299)

smoke in the COCKPIT on an ANA 787!?

I like the fact that I can put a convenience store burrito in my pocket after I take my shoes off, and it stays hot all the way till I'm in my seat.

Japan... OMFG

Forensics: doing it wrong (5, Insightful)

_Ludwig (86077) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600325)

“The court has ordered that the named defendants [...] prepare their computers and storage devices for forensic evaluation, and refrain from taking any action that would obfuscate the location of said devices or the data contained therein.”

Isn’t that a contradiction? That’s like CSI calling you up and telling you “We’re coming over next week, so make sure you prepare the crime scene for our arrival.”

Re:Forensics: doing it wrong (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600507)

That means, "clean off your desk and don't delete shit."

Re:Forensics: doing it wrong (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601653)

Yeah but ill get really drunk, and accidentally, place the SSD drive in the microwave.

Re:Forensics: doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42604823)

Then they have you at your balls for "obstruction of justice".

Not really (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600509)

Since it is a civil case, they can't just go and send in the FBI to seize everything right away. So the court is formally telling these people: Your computers are evidence, you must treat them as such. Should the people fail to do that, and erase things, they could be charged with tampering with evidence.

In civil cases (sometimes criminal too depending on the circumstances) you commonly see things like this, where the court will instruct someone that they are not to alter or throw away something because it is going to be evidence. Sometimes courts also will order additional retention.

Like say your company doesn't keep e-mail. All employees have to use POP and the server doesn't store anything. That's legal, in most cases you don't have to keep e-mail for records, if you don't want. Then a case comes up that involves it. The court might order you to retain all e-mail, for a time, because of that, though it isn't your standard policy.

Without this order, the employees would be free to wipe their computers if they wished. You and I can do a SATA secure erase on our disks at any time, for any reason, if we want and no legal trouble will come of that. It is our data, we do as we please (as an aside, you should do that on an SSD prior to reinstall, for performance reasons). These people cannot, temporarily, or they could get in trouble, because the court considers that what they have on their computers may be evidence and this order is why they cannot.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42601789)

...and how does the court determine if I wiped all these SATA disks before or after the order?

Re:Forensics: doing it wrong (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600595)

Forensics can easily tell if the Drive is fresh and just made to look old. They can also tell if that drive is from a work computer you used daily, or that it was just a second computer you used once a week.

not SSDs, their out of luck (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | about a year and a half ago | (#42601675)

what if you have an SSD ?

And everything cloud synced, to a server out of USA.

Or even better, use 8gig of DRAM for a ram disk.

Man, harddrives? who are you, a 1990s museum director?

Any one with access to those juicy docs and getting paid super well, can afford a truecrypt 512GIG SSD pocket drive.

But to really hide it, just use Zune thats brown, forensics will just ignore it.

Man, its so easy to hide/store 32gig memory cards any where

Re:not SSDs, their out of luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42602083)

He's referring to stuff like SMART data on disks - hard or solid-state - which records things like number of hours powered on, number of power cycles, etc. Those stats give a forensic analyst a good idea of the usage patterns of the disk. A disk that has been powered on for less than a hundred hours is basically new out of the box.

Re:not SSDs, their out of luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42608783)

yeah, and truecrypt aint gonna save you from shit. a big corp like amd is gonna have spyware on your company computer and record every damn thing you move off that box even to a truecrpt disk. by the time you realize you needed to hide your shit its already to late.

Re:Forensics: doing it wrong (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600707)

That’s like CSI calling you up and telling you “We’re coming over next week, so make sure you prepare the crime scene for our arrival.”

If AMD is anything like Intel. It will have former spooks on staff. And it will have the former employees in question already under 24 hour surveillance and on a weekly trash pick up/combing snooping expedition.

Those former employees in question better not even erase their porn folders (fetish porn, or otherwise). If they try to erase anything now, after having received this order, things could get a lot worse for them. The same goes for their spouse and kids. Everybody in those households better bend over and get ready for a very thorough virtual body cavity search.

Re:Forensics: doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42601357)

So this is your Amerika Land of the Frees..

Re:Forensics: doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42604931)

Land Of the 2 million inmates, more specifically.

What a bunch of noobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42600399)

These guys worked for AMD and they don't have the computer chops to abscond with this data undetected? For shame!!

Show of hands: how many of you with access to your company's SCM take everything with you when you leave

Really? (0)

U8MyData (1281010) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600401)

Given AMD/ATI's reputation and my own experience, no wonder. I would have left AMD/ATI too. Much about marketing and less on performance. nVidia is my personal preference for just that reason. I am only writing this because of a recent experience with HP/AMD driver issues on a Windows 8 install and non-compliant, non-working OpenGL implemetation. Inexcusable in my humble opinion. This is NOT a gaming issue, rather a high performance application issue and this is not the first time. AMD, GYST (yes, explatives involved)! Screams of SCO type litigation...

Re:Really? (1)

tyrione (134248) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600475)

Given AMD/ATI's reputation and my own experience, no wonder. I would have left AMD/ATI too. Much about marketing and less on performance. nVidia is my personal preference for just that reason. I am only writing this because of a recent experience with HP/AMD driver issues on a Windows 8 install and non-compliant, non-working OpenGL implemetation. Inexcusable in my humble opinion. This is NOT a gaming issue, rather a high performance application issue and this is not the first time. AMD, GYST (yes, explatives involved)! Screams of SCO type litigation...

Take some valium. Microsoft pushes DirectX and you're whining about Win 8 OpenGL performance being the sole responsibility of AMD? Gawd how long must people swing from the Gorilla's nutsack to realize Microsoft are douche bags?

Re:Really? (1)

U8MyData (1281010) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600565)

I am not swinging at nuts and it isn't a simple issue with performance, rather working! It has been and continues to be a question of whether or not I can have any confidence in their products, period.

Re:Really? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year and a half ago | (#42600531)

This event has "AMD sucks at management" written all over it. Probably treated these vital employees like crap. AMD has shown other signs of poor leadership, stumbling in the x86 CPU market. They may even be in a death spiral. While I like seeing bad management get what they deserve, I don't like where this looks to be going. If AMD/ATI dies, that leaves Nvidia as the only player in the high end consumer graphics market. I'm not much consoled by Intel's presence. If Intel improves, it doesn't help the situation much. Just means Nvidia is joined by another monopolist. AMD's exit would also leave Intel with one less competitor in the x86 CPU market.

I keep hoping to see a decent open source graphics driver with good 3D acceleration. For years, ATI talked of going there, but somehow it never materialized.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42601057)

Assumptive speculation much? Four people stealing documents in a huge company. Get a grip.

Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42604657)

Nvidia is in no position to steal AMD's console business. THINK! AMD has already won all of the next generation consoles- notably Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft and Valve. Of these four, only Valve will have any kind of real redesign in the next 5 years.

AMD won (over Intel, Nvidia etc) because it is the only 'joined-up' company in the business. It can design the chips, test the chips and fabricate the chips. It designs chipsets (the glue and peripheral systems), CPUs and GPUs. Its CPUs are now the most power efficient x86 SoC parts in the business (way ahead of Intel, regardless of what you may have heard).

Meanwhile, poor Nvidia was completely pushed out of the x86 chipset biz by Intel and AMD. Nvidia struggles (badly) to design high end ARM parts, and has failed 4 times to get its latest GPU technology into its SoC ARM parts.

Taking secret information about AMDs GPUs to Nvidia would be one thing- here the two companies directly compete. However, this case would seem to be about business contacts and business models, neither of which are easy to protect, or even much worth protecting given AMD has already won all the major contracts.

People that support AMD despair over how many times AMD wastes time on distractions, rather than focusing on its strengths. Here's a free clue, AMD. Stop wasting money on the lawyers in thsi case, and move that funding to develop some decent openGL drivers for Linux. The x86 gaming platform is going to live on for a long time yet, even in the face of ARM, and the demise of Intel and Microsoft. The likely future platform for increasing numbers of game developers will be some flavour of Linux, and Nvidia currently rules there, and by a very large margin.

Why only a lawsuit? (2)

seeker_1us (1203072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42606297)

I remember a story from a few years back when a guy from Intel went to work for AMD but downloaded tons of secret documents before leaving Intel. He was arrested on criminal charges, if I remember correctly. So why only a lawsuit here?

No point - information like this has a shelf-life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42607569)

Why would Nvidia want information on PREVIOUS GENERATION hardware? The value that these 4 "defectors" is obviously their skills in the industry and not some collection of highly dated confidential information.

This is obviously a ploy to scare employees at AMD from defecting to competitors. This is a highly illegal tactic in California. And I wouldn't be surprised if District Attorneys in Silicon Valley are already in contact with these individuals.

These "fine upstanding types" that are execs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42608771)

Turn out to be the BIGGEST TRASHBAG SCUM THERE IS, bar none. Traitorous slime and thieves galore.

AMD's real problem, and their solution: (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42608785)

AMD's real problem, and their solution:

AMD's real problem is that when these people left AMD, they took their reputation and goodwill with them to another company.

This reputation and goodwill was an intangible asset on loan to, but not owned by, AMD which they borrowed upon by virtue of being these persons employer. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwill_(accounting) [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reputation [wikipedia.org]

When these people left, they reduced AMD's outstanding goodwill and reputation. This loss was irrecoverable, short of hiring these people back -- and the people in question seemed rather fed up with working for AMD, so that wasn't going to happen.

One legal tactic to apply in this case is to devalue the goodwill and reputation of the former employees, such that AMD's loss did not become a competitors gain (thus doubling the effective loss to AMD). As a secondary effect, it will make it appear that the goodwill and reputation were AMD's, rather than the employees, in the first place. This is a pretty common tactic, and it really doesn't matter to AMD if the end result is paying a settlement to the former employees, particularly if they can drag it out to the point that the damage is irreparable and/or the costs to the party or parties receiving the settlement is comparable to the amount of the settlement.

Another legal tactic that could be applied would be to pay the departing employee some severance amount, usually cash, but potentially including continued health benefits, option or RSU vesting (in which case the cash severance could include additional option or RSU grants), etc.. This is commonly called "pay-for-no-play". This is pretty common, except in jurisdictions such as California, where non-compete clauses have been legislatively held invalid as a form of restraint of trade.

To get around the non compete limitation (if it's really a critical employee) in California, most pay-for-no-play severance agreements include a penalty and/or interest clause which makes violating them economically prohibitive. This can fail if a new employer is willing to "buy out" the penalty from the employee as part of a "hiring bonus". If an employee goes that route, they need to make sure they don't get stuck with paying back the hiring bonus, as a couple of colluding companies could easily strip both the severance and the hiring bonus, while leaving the other severance terms in effect.

Typically, this second doesn't come up very often, since it requires the employee stating an intent to leave without having already accepted a competitors offer (having accepted the offer, it is unlikely they will back out of the deal), making pay-for-no-play not an option for the employer they are departing. The current climate of the departing executive giving two weeks notice, then being frog-marched out the door by security without being permitted to serve their final two weeks makes it costly to the departing employee to give notice without having something already lined up. Worse, if there is nothing apriori lined up, it's frequent that networking between executives as a result of routine inquiries during the former employees job hunting process could poison the well. Such networking doesn't happen when the employee is approached or looking while employed, for fear of the employee as a candidate deciding to stay at their current position.

Most employees below an executive level never have to worry about this kind of thing involving them.

There have been a number of cases of prominent Open Source developers, where their reputation and goodwill is not legally controllable after their departure, have left a company. These are generally either truly amicable partings, or there is "pay-for-nice" involved, where something similar to the severance payment tactic is used in exchange for the Open Source developer agreeing to not attack the former employers reputation or goodwill in exchange.

In any case, unless these people are actually criminally liable, expect to see this settled in about 6 months with a sealed settlement. Hopefully, the former employees will have counsel who is already aware, or can determine, the value of the reputation of the employee being lost in such a deal, and the former employee won't come out of it with a net zero or net loss from the transaction.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?