Ex-Intel engineer pleads guilty to IP theft
April 10, 2012 // 12:13 p.m.
A former Intel engineer has admitted stealing trade secrets valued at around $1 billion before joining AMD, and is facing the possibility of decades in prison for his crimes.
Biswamohan Pani announced his intention to leave Intel's employ on the 29th of May 2008, asking for his official last day to be the 11th of June. Pani's next job would be at Intel rival AMD, where he started on the 2nd of June.
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed something of an overlap in those dates - an overlap which allowed Pani to retain access to Intel's internal network despite working for one of its biggest competitors.
According to a statement from the US Justice Department, Pani used this access to obtain trade secrets and other sensitive documents in order to further his career at AMD. Given that Pani was an engineer at Intel's plant in Massachusetts, those documents were undoubtedly a treasure-trove of information.
Unfortunately for Pani, Intel noticed the theft and reported the matter to the FBI. 'The FBI was able to recover these documents quickly, before Pani could use them to Intel’s disadvantage, largely because Intel reported the theft quickly and assisted the investigation,' the Justice Department explained in a statement following Pani's guilty plea.
According to the Justice Department's statement, Pani was apprehended before he was able to make use of the documents - thanks in no small part to the cooperation of AMD, which is believed to have been unaware of Pani's plans before being contacted by the FBI.
Between the documents' original value of between $200 to $400 million and the associated costs the company has faced since the deception was discovered, Pani is on the hook for $1 billion in damages. As a result, he's facing the possibility of multiple decades in prison.
While his guilty verdict may help drop his sentence down a notch, the gap between his arrest and his guilty verdict may mean Pani find it difficult to get the judge on-side.