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Indian techie caught in trade secret wrangle

business Updated: Sep 17, 2008 00:36 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

Brundaban Pani, a 73-year-old retired railways employee, doesn’t know what FBI stands for or what trade secrets mean. What he does know is that the FBI has charged his techie son with a corporate crime.

His son Biswamohan, 33, is caught in the murky world of corporate rivalry and is struggling to prove his innocence.

Biswamohan, who worked with Intel Corp in the US till May this year, has been charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with stealing trade secrets of the chip maker after joining rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD).

He started working for AMD from June 2 this year and the FBI searched his Worcester home next month. The FBI allegedly found 100 sensitive Intel documents including a few design plans for future processor chips in his possession.

Biswamohan has surrendered his passport to the US authorities and is awaiting the outcome of the trial in the US District Court in Boston. So far, he has not been arrested.

Biswamohan did his B Tech from IIT Bombay and Master in Science (MS) from University of Massachusetts, Amherst after which he worked with Compaq, HP and Intel.

Speaking to Hindustan Times over telephone from the US, Biswamohan denied involved in the theft of Intel trade secrets.

On the recovery of secret Intel documents from him, he said he had been misunderstood. “My wife worked for Intel for a year in California, and then was transferred to my group in Massachusetts in June,” he said. “Around the same time, I switched jobs to AMD. Based on my many years of experience in microprocessor design, I was aware of the design files, methodology documents, guidelines etc that will be useful to her in her new role.”

“My actions were solely meant to have any such data transferred to her, where she can refer to them if necessary,” he added.

He said that for a crime under US’s trade secret laws, there has to be a malicious intention. “Since my wife is an Intel employee, I wanted to transfer data to her that will help in her job. Where is the criminal motive here?” Biswamohan said.

In an email response to a query from HT, an Intel spokesperson said: “There are charges pending against Mr Pani, but these charges were initiated by the US District Attorney in Boston.”

In Bhubaneswar, all that Biswamohan’s old parents can do is wait — for their son to return home.