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Qualcomm took legal action this week against a former engineer for allegedly uploading confidential trade secrets from the company’s internal network to his personal email and cloud storage accounts just prior to accepting a job with a competitor.

It is the second legal action by Qualcomm in the past three weeks against former workers accused of absconding with secret information on their way to other jobs.

In both cases filed in San Diego federal court, the company said it doesn’t know the extent to which its confidential information might have been passed on to others. It is asking the court to authorize inspections of the ex-employees’ computers, email accounts, personal storage drives and cloud-based storage accounts to pinpoint what was taken and where it was transferred. It is also seeking an injunction and unspecified damages.

“We take protection of our confidential information very seriously,” said a Qualcomm spokesperson.

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On Tuesday, Qualcomm sued Gaurav Kathuria, a software engineer in San Diego who joined the company in 2012 and recently led a group of engineers. He signed a written agreement to safeguard Qualcomm’s confidential information.

According to the lawsuit, Qualcomm security personal discovered that Kathuria uploaded “hundreds” of files from Qualcomm’s network in December and January to his personal email and cloud storage accounts without permission. Security software blocked some file transfers, so Kathuria allegedly took hundreds of screenshots of those files and transferred the images.

Company security personnel interviewed Kathuria on Feb. 1 about the uploads and discovered that he had accepted a job with an unnamed Qualcomm competitor around Jan. 21. Efforts to reach Kathuria were unsuccessful.

On Feb. 23, Qualcomm sued Truong Hoang. Based in San Jose, Hoang joined Qualcomm in March 2021, which was the same time that Qualcomm completed its acquisition of Nuvia, a chip designer developing high performance CPUs.

The lawsuit alleges Hoang, who also signed an agreement to keep Qualcomm’s proprietary information confidential, uploaded more than a thousand proprietary files about designs for high- performance processors before leaving for a job with a direct competitor.

An email to Hoang’s attorney was not returned. His LinkedIn account says he now works for MediaTek.

The lawsuits claim breach of contract, as well as violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and California’s Computer Data Access and Fraud Act. Both civil cases are pending.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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