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Employment

Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft

A former employee of Jasmine Networks is under indictment for allegedly stealing trade secrets from the defunct company.

On April 2, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California indicted Patrick J. Murphy, 43, on six counts of trade-secret theft and one count of computer fraud. Specifically, Murphy is accused of stealing computer files from Jasmine and from Silicon Wave Inc., a Bluetooth-chip company. A warrant for Murphy's arrest was issued last week.

Murphy worked at Silicon Wave from December 1998 to March 2000, and at Jasmine from April 2000 to September 2001. Jasmine shut down in 2002, apparently felled by a dependence on Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) business that never surfaced (see Jasmine Networks: Disconnected).

A representative of the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco would not discuss how the case originated, but it appears to have been focused on the Jasmine files, as a Silicon Wave representative said his company was unaware of Murphy's actions when investigators came calling. Five of the seven counts against Murphy concern his possession of Jasmine software and documents.

Murphy is accused of stealing register-transfer-level (RTL) files related to one of Jasmine's semiconductors. RTL code is used in the design of an integrated circuit. It does not spell out the individual logic gates of an IC, but it does specify what the chip should be doing from one clock cycle to the next.

The indictment says Murphy downloaded Jasmine's files onto his work computer, then emailed it to a personal account.

With regards to Silicon Wave, Murphy is accused of knowingly keeping seven proprietary documents on his work laptop computer. All seven appear to be product specifications.

Murphy is also accused of storing and altering a Jasmine document entitled, "Scalable Unified Packet Switch Architecture Specification." The indictment says Murphy changed the document's "Jasmine Proprietary and Confidential" label, replacing "Jasmine" with "CoolCom." Murphy allegedly made similar alterations to a document entitled, "Silicon Wave Controller Specification."

If convicted, Murphy faces as much as 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each of six trade theft counts and 5 years and $250,000 in fines for the fraud count.

Efforts to locate Murphy were unsuccessful. He had not been arrested at press time.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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waveform 12/5/2012 | 1:11:04 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft And there were only two Indians in the Richardson, TX office and me? I am from California..
Nortel backed out because they didn't have the cash, plain and simple.
lahlah 12/5/2012 | 12:16:29 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft This is a criminal case, not a civil case (People v. the guy, not Jasmine v. the guy). If you comit a crime, the government will go after you, you don't need the victim to sue you.
skeptic 12/5/2012 | 12:16:29 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft Jasmine shut down in 2002, apparently felled by a dependence on Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT - message board) business that never surfaced (see Jasmine Networks: Disconnected ).
-------------
They were felled by having a product that nobody
ever wanted.

I don't understand why anyone is even bothering
with a case like this. The company is gone.
Its assets are worthless. At best, they should
have just sold the rights to what was stolen
for a tiny bit of money and forgot the whole
thing.

Going to court over this is just a waste of time.
skeptic 12/5/2012 | 12:16:28 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft If you comit a crime, the government will go after you, you don't need the victim to sue you.
==============
But the government rarely goes after cases like
this unless:

1) its visible and important for some reason.

2) Someone with influence strongly wants it
to be pursued.

The reason these cases don't usually happen
(criminal trade secret) is that they are expensive
for the prosecutors to do and many people think
that trade secrets are better handled as a
civil manner anyway.

Most of the times I've heard of criminal trade
secret cases happening, it usually seemed that
they were brought because a company or its lawyers
had a whole lot of influence on the local courts.

joe_average 12/5/2012 | 12:16:27 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft lahlah quoted the law:

This is a criminal case, not a civil case (People v. the guy, not Jasmine v. the guy). If you comit a crime, the government will go after you, you don't need the victim to sue you.

-----------------------------------

Sorry lahlah but there is law and then there is justice. Based on the information that we have, I agree with Skeptic. It's just so much water under the bridge. As I understand the law, to be guilty you need two things to happen:

1. You need to have taken proprietary information. Seems to be little question that this point is valid.

2. You need to have the intent of defrauding or otherwise damaging the company that you took the information from. If that was the case, everyone who switched jobs should have their memories erased by the trademark police.

I am willing to bet that there is some personality conflict behind all this. Some Jasmine founder has his/her underwear in a knot because their company failed and is looking for scapegoats and/or people to torture that may have disagreed with them in the past.

The whole case sounds like a waste of time and money for the courts. Hopefully it will be thrown out quickly.
DoTheMath 12/5/2012 | 12:16:26 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft I have a different perspective on this. I have heard many cases in silicon valley of people casually taking code from their former employers, and putting it to use in their new job. Stolen code like this goes into even well-funded companies.

I don't know the situation with Jasmine, but when someone gets caught doing it, is it wrong to prosecute them?
metanoiac 12/5/2012 | 12:16:25 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft See Fortune article from another era :
http://www.fortune.com/fortune...

"Coolcom" was the name of the company some ex-Jasminites formed to cut a deal with Marvell, while Marvell was in negotiations with Jasmine for the acquisition of Jasmine's ASIC business.
sudden69 12/5/2012 | 12:16:24 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft
News is, after 3 rounds of layoffs another one is around the corner...any further insight from LR regulars??
wilecoyote 12/5/2012 | 12:16:22 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft I agree, this is a waste of time. Jasmine was an unbelievably stupid company run by absolute bafoons.

Jasmine was a science project run by third rate jokers, backers were checked out, no one executed to a plan no one would ever buy into anyway, there was absolutely nothing but hype in the place (a la Nortel), etc. So you'd think: who cares what the employees did with the so called assets? There weren't any real assets.

But there's a disturbing trend going on. People are looting startups because they're bitter, or they think they're entitled, or whatever. The heck with that sentiment. Regardless of the value of a failing startup, people who steal assets need to be dealt with harshly. I say, sue the heck out of this guy if he's guilty and make an example out of him.
inauniversefarfaraway 12/5/2012 | 12:16:21 AM
re: Jasmine Worker Accused of Trade Theft wilecoyote wrote:
But there's a disturbing trend going on. People are looting startups because they're bitter, or they think they're entitled, or whatever. The heck with that sentiment. Regardless of the value of a failing startup, people who steal assetsneed to be dealt with harshly. I say, sue the heck out of this guy if he's guilty and make an example out of him.



Perhaps these prosecutors, and elsewhere, could kindly provide a tip line, so that the countless other rip-off jobs, and startups, and scams, can be "whistle blown".
To think that this is the only example really is understatement.
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