Lessons From the $1 Billion Intel Trade-Secret Theft

Employment lawyer Richard H. Frank dissects the case of Biswamohan Pani and the secrets he allegedly stole from Intel to give to AMD

6 min read

24 November 2008—What if the FBI came knocking on your door saying that your employer had accused you of stealing US $1 billion from the company? That’s exactly what happened to Biswamohan Pani, a former Intel engineer who was indicted earlier this month for stealing trade secrets from the chip maker. Instead of raiding the supply closet for some notepads, pens, and paper clips, Pani allegedly downloaded more than 100 pages of data containing details about future Intel chip designs and 19 drawings detailing the chips’ layouts.

It didn’t take much sleuthing to figure out that by the time Pani resigned his position at Intel near the end of May, he had already been hired by Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to work at one of its R&D labs. For nine days after he reported for duty at AMD on 2 June, he was technically still a full-fledged Intel employee, with all the rights and privileges thereof. One of those privileges was access to an encrypted server containing a cache of Intel’s trade secrets. Intel says it has proof that he raided the server. His supposed intent: to advance his career by strategically using the information to make himself indispensable to his new employer.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

1 min read
A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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