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Intel Suit Claims Broadcom Stole Secrets

March 10, 2000|From Staff and Wire Reports

Intel Corp. has sued fast-growing Broadcom Corp. with a claim that the Irvine chip developer stole trade secrets by hiring three key employees with confidential knowledge of Intel's Ethernet network products.

Intel, the world's largest computer chip maker, claims Broadcom, the leading maker of chips for digital cable-TV set-top boxes, stole the trade secrets by hiring a product line manager and two engineers with knowledge of Intel's technology and unreleased products.

Broadcom has made it impossible for the employees to do their jobs without disclosing or using those secrets, Intel asserted.

Broadcom officials, citing company policy, refused to comment on pending litigation.

Two other companies--Sarnoff Corp. and Rockwell Semiconductor Systems Inc., which subsequently spun off Broadcom's chip-making rival Conexant Systems Inc.--have filed lawsuits accusing Broadcom of similar tactics. The Rockwell case was dismissed.

Intel, based in Santa Clara, has invested substantial time and money in developing products and technology for Ethernet, the most popular cabling and data-delivery standard among all computer networks, according to the suit. Intel and Broadcom both design and make components for Ethernet networks.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Santa Clara Superior Court, seeks a court order prohibiting Broadcom from using any of the trade secrets and from employing the workers in any position relating to the design or sale of Ethernet products for one year.

Wall Street appeared to ignore the lawsuit. Intel shares rose $3.44 to close at $118.38 a share, while Broadcom gained $4.50 to close at $239 a share.

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