back to article Intel gets court order telling former engineer to return confidential docs in Micron row

Intel has been granted a preliminary injunction in its trade secret theft claim against former engineering manager Doyle Rivers, who left to work at Micron. The court order [PDF] requires Rivers to not possess, use, or disclose any confidential Intel information related to the company's 3D XPoint or Optane products, including …

  1. revenant Silver badge

    "I have saved the 110 Perl scripts"

    Doesn't that statement mean he confessed to copying data off company equipment and taking it away (by implication, without permission)? I'd call that unauthorised access, regardless of the value of the content.

    That at least is something Intel should be able to do him for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "I have saved the 110 Perl scripts"

      @revenant it depends upon where the scripts came from originally, if intel paid for the time for their developement then yes but if they were typed in out of a magazine or downloaded off the web then intel do not own them but they might have a case of recovering the cost of the typing time.

      Certainly sentimentality is not a reason to take something that doesn't belong to you but intel need to show it does belong to them for them to have any rights over their use.

      That employees are allowed and able to use USB sticks to take things from the work place is somewhat odd if the employee had access to confidential information

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Nothing to return

    I fail to see how anyone would be able to find a few digital files if he doesn't want to admit having them. There is a baffling amount of places and ways he could stash them away and services that are begging for users to hold files for.

    There is no way the police can hope to find them even they do get a court order to do so. Turning his house inside out would only give results if the guy was stupid enough to hide evidence there, which seems unlikely. Once they find nothing at home, what do they do ? Subpoena his ISP for every IP address he used and check them all out ? Not enough resources and, even if that were possible, there's the chance he did it on someone else's wifi, so dead end there.

    This just might be a landmark case about digital file discovery. That could prove more interesting than the actual case.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Nothing to return

      Even if they did find out where he stored them they'd still have to gain access with the login and password.

      Doesn't the US also have laws against forcing US citizens to hand over passwords if it could incriminate themself?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing to return

        We've split rulings on that with a case percolating up to the Supreme Court on point.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, they'd totally go nuclear if they saw my collection of forensic and anti-forensic tools, tutorials, books, .... As for the perl scripts, was he the author? You get into a minefield when it comes to intellectual property vs. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    1. deive

      Indeed, talk about thought crime! These tools are used for security as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The folder they are tucked in is labeled "SysAdmin." Pretty much says it all.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Windows alone leaves so much trash it doesn't bother to clean you have to have CCleaner or something like that installed and run periodically if you want to keep you your hard drive space.

          For anyone having sensitive data erasing and crypting tools are a must, that's very weak argument from the start.

    2. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      I am sure you even have a shower at home, that is proof you were taking confidential samples of dust back from work!

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Circumstantial evidence and a non-classified employee directory

    Shock! Horror!! A Silicon Valley engineer has disk-cleaning utilities on his home PC!! The good news is that I am sure he used these to cover the tracks of his work grooming impressionable children to kill baby whales for ISIS, and not to cover up anything he took from Intel and then deleted.

    And he took a list of employees, that was not sensitive and for which he had a plausible excuse of keeping in communication with old co-workers.

    The perl scripts are the only thing that is remotely incriminating, and they are not sensitive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Circumstantial evidence and a non-classified employee directory

      I seem to recall that back before 2000, someone working for a large company left taking a list of his colleagues so he could stay in touch.

      Then Y2K came along, loads of COBOL and HR had lost old records and didn't know where to turn. Somehow he found out - and sold them the list for a six figure sum.

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Circumstantial evidence and a non-classified employee directory

      The perl scripts are the only thing that is remotely incriminating, and they are not sensitive.

      If the assertion they are not sensitive is not in dispute (and I see ntohing to indicate that it is) then for there to be a valid claim Intel still have to show an actual loss, especially with US copyright law where it is unlikely the scripts have had copyright registered.

      I can see reasons to keep things like that you have worked on, when I left my last job I kept hold of a few spreadsheets with some neat but fairly generic macro tricks for future reference, technical documents and training materials as examples of my work or again as a reference, for how to structure structure awkward to explain stuff. It's the kind of miscellaneous and varied non profit-driven stuff that may well simply be summarised as "sentimental" in court filings.

  5. mj.jam

    OMG, think of the GDPR issues.

    3000 contact details, clearly he wants to keep in touch with a lot of people. :-)

    Although it isn't clear if this is just their email addresses, or other stuff. I'm sure they monitor all their emails anyway, so any poaching attempts to their work email would be pointless.

  6. Snowy Silver badge
    Coat

    I'm confused

    Quoting from https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/17/intel_micron_3dxpoint_breakup/

    [quote]Identically-worded statements from both companies said “The companies have agreed to complete joint development for the second generation of 3D XPoint technology, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2019.[/quote]

    If they are still working together what information is there top steal, or is Intel not playing nice with their partner?

    1. Ramlen

      Re: I'm confused

      From this article:

      Intel and Micron had a partnership to develop a non-volatile memory technology called 3D XPoint, which Intel offers in its Optane solid state storage devices. The silicon vendors parted ways last summer to develop the technology independently.

      1. Snowy Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: I'm confused

        True but the article they linked in the article talked about the split (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/17/intel_micron_3dxpoint_breakup/) Identically-worded statements from both companies said "The companies have agreed to complete joint development for the second generation of 3D XPoint technology, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2019.". So when he left two months later in September they were still partners.

  7. Chairo
    Thumb Up

    I can totally believe

    that he has sentimental feelings regarding his old perl scripts. I wrote a few back in my time and still feel proud to see someone still uses them. They were written hastily after a 2 days perl training and are an ugly and inelegant hack, but somehow there is nothing that lasts longer than a good improvisation.

  8. Valerion

    Getting to the point now

    That companies are going to insist on a full flashy-thing mind-wipe before you're allowed to leave and work elsewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Getting to the point now

      In the US. Meanwhile the Chinese approach to IP or lack of it means increasing numbers of engineers who know about a lot of stuff.

      The US approach to profiting from IP rather than manufacturing could do it a lot of harm in the long run, as the boom phase of US development took place when it ignored other countries' patents and copyrights. The lesson does not seem to have been learned.

  9. hellwig Silver badge

    .emacs/init.el

    I had a hard time getting my Emacs config from my last employer, as they had completely locked-down the network at that time. No external drives could be plugged in and all emails were scanned by security (and I didn't want to have to explain to some security person what the file was).

    However, copy-paste over remote desktop/VPN still worked. Seems to me security lags behind technology far too often.

    Also, I've left so many sentimental Perl scripts at former employers, so sad.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Damned if they Do, Darned if they Don't = Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Stalemate or CheckMate?

    But the chip biz claims Rivers did manage to copy "a highly sensitive compilation of Intel personnel information," which is to say a spreadsheet with the contact details of more than 3,000 Intel employees.

    Well they would, wouldn't they

    I would like to know if the highly sensitive personnel information compilations led anywhere worthwhile fighting over in the full glare of both the noteworthy and notoriously partisan courts ...... and as a Public Spectacle in an Instrument of Education for those Travelling to Learn and Know Virtually All the Immaculate States of Euphoria in Dystopia.

    And in camera/private hearings signal Intimate Petting details abound and are pure dynamite rogue and renegade gold?

  11. Darrel

    Perl Scripts Pre-Date Intel Employment

    In his declaration filing Rivers states:

    "These 110 Perl scripts date back to the time period approximately 2006-2008 and

    contain software code that I wrote as an employee of Micron".

    So what valid claim can Intel make on them?

    Also in the same document Rivers states the following pertaining to the employee list:

    "I created a single aggregated file into which I inserted

    a column that included an “X” mark to indicate the recipients of the farewell email, then filtered

    the subset, in order to copy the addresses into the farewell email."

    and

    "I was concerned, however, that upon giving notice of my departure from Intel, I

    might be deprived of email access immediately, which would prevent me from sending the

    farewell email from my Intel email account. Therefore, I kept a copy of the list, in case I needed

    to send the farewell email from a personal email account."

    I can relate both to keeping old work for code references or sentimental purposes, and the email list explanation also sounds plausible.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Oh, you mean this drive with all the CMA copies of emails sent by management instructing me to do dodgy stuff?

  13. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I don't understand why they insist on getting the files back. It's not like they couldn't have been copied and passed along. Nor is it like a piece of hardware or say, jewelry. This sounds like some sort of revenge tactic at best.

  14. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    Eraser, EraserPortable, PCShredder, CCleaner, TrueCrypt and Tor Browser.

    sounds to me like he is just protecting his privacy and his employer's security .... ATleast thats what I'm Telling GCHQ when they come by

  15. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    CCleaner might indicate he removed a copy of McAffee. You need digital bleach to get the fugging McAffee nagware out of a system once it has been installed (in about eight hundred different ways and places).

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