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11/7/2008
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Ex-Intel Engineer Accused Of Stealing $1 Billion In Trade Secrets

Biswamohan Pani was indicted Wednesday for allegedly downloading more than a dozen confidential Intel documents after he had been hired by AMD.

A former Intel engineer who left the chipmaker to work for rival Advanced Micro Devices has been indicted on federal charges accusing him of stealing $1 billion worth of trade secrets from Intel.

Biswamohan Pani, 33, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Massachusetts on four counts of wire fraud, which were added to charges of trade-secret theft filed against the defendant in August in U.S. District Court in Boston. If convicted, the Worcester, Mass., engineer would face up to 10 years in prison for the theft charge and a maximum of 20 years for each wire fraud charge. Pani was free on $100,000 bail.

Pani worked as a design engineer at Intel's Hudson, Mass., chipmaking plant when he was hired by AMD in June. Pani, however, didn't tell his Intel supervisors that he was resigning to join the competitor, and remained on Intel's payroll while he burned unused vacation time, The Associated Press reported. During a four-day stretch, Pani allegedly downloaded from Intel's computers in California more than a dozen confidential documents.

The information allegedly stolen from Intel included details about the company's processes for designing its latest generation of microprocessors, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported. The indictment alleges the documents were worth $1 billion in research and development costs.

Federal prosecutors say Pani planned to use the information at his new job at AMD, the newspaper reported. Pani, however, told investigators that the documents were for his wife, who is an Intel employee. AMD did not know about Pani's alleged theft and did not benefit from the information, prosecutors said.

Pani's lawyer, B. Bradford Bailey of Boston, told the Worcester Telegram that the indictment was not a surprise. "We knew it was coming. We will enter a plea of not guilty when an arraignment date is set, and he will vigorously contest the charges because he is innocent," the lawyer said.

In the third quarter, Intel accounted for 80% of the worldwide market for microprocessors and AMD 12%. Competition between the two companies is fierce, and design information is a closely guarded secret.

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