The memory technology known as 3D XPoint is so promising that Intel Corp. has put more than $1 billion into its development. But details of the secret project were known to only a few employees in the technology giant headquartered in northern California.
But possession of the details of the closely guarded 3D XPoint almost changed hands when a company computer hardware engineer allegedly tried to download the data the night before his departure for an Intel competitor. A lawsuit recently filed in federal court charges the engineer with violating confidentiality agreements and trying to steal trade secrets.
According to a news article, engineer Doyle Rivers was virtually out the door on his way to competing Micron Corp, when he tried to access Intel files the night before his departure. The 17-page lawsuit says Rivers “engaged in a covert and calculated effort to collect Intel’s confidential, proprietary, and trade secret technical and personnel information.”
Documents filed in court claim that the “top secret” files were “not something that was shared with anyone outside Intel, including anyone at Micron.”
Micron says its aware of the suit filed by Intel, but notes that “Micron is not a party to the complaint, and Intel has not alleged any unlawful conduct by Micron.” Its statement adds that its “policies and team member training help ensure that the intellectual property of others is respected and safeguarded.”
Intel says it will continue to defend its intellectual property. “We have an obligation to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary information, and we will not hesitate to act to prevent their misappropriation.”
The suit says Micron and Intel were partners in the development of the 3D XPoint tech. Both companies were scheduled to mutually end the agreement and go their separate, competing ways in marketing the technology.
Protection of IP is critical to the success of many firms in and outside of the technology sector. It’s also crucial for businesses and individuals to contest false allegations of the theft of trade secrets or intellectual property.