Qualcomm accuses former engineer of stealing trade secrets

Qualcomm's logo is seen at its booth at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2015 in Beijing
Qualcomm's logo is seen at its booth at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2015 in Beijing, China, April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
  • Engineer could have given secrets to competitors, Qualcomm said
  • Alleged secrets include info about chip software, designs

(Reuters) - Chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies Inc sued one of its former engineers in San Diego federal court on Tuesday, claiming he breached a confidentiality agreement and stole company trade secrets before accepting a job offer from another unnamed "major technology company."

Qualcomm asked the court to ban Gaurav Kathuria from using its secrets and for an undisclosed amount of money damages.

The company accused Kathuria, whose LinkedIn page still lists him as a senior software engineering manager for Qualcomm in San Diego, of taking files with confidential information about its chip-related software, and lying to company security when he said he deleted them.

The files allegedly contained software architecture information and technical design documents related to a "wide variety" of Qualcomm products.

Kathuria could not be reached for comment. An attorney for Qualcomm declined to comment.

According to Qualcomm, Kathuria, who had signed a confidentiality agreement when he was hired, also deliberately circumvented the company's security measures by taking screenshots of confidential files and sending the images to himself.

The lawsuit said Qualcomm caught Kathuria taking confidential files in December, that he falsely told the company that he had deleted them, and that he took more secret information in January. The company said it learned after an internal investigation that Kathuria had taken hundreds of files from its network without permission.

Kathuria told Qualcomm in January that he had accepted a job offer from a direct competitor, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit did not say whether Kathuria joined that company.

Qualcomm told the court that Kathuria could have sent the information to competitors or retained copies to use at a future job, though "the full extent of Kathuria's wrongdoing remains unknown."

The case is Qualcomm Technologies Inc v. Kathuria, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, No. 3:22-cv-00346.

For Qualcomm: Michael Attanasio of Cooley

For Kathuria: n/a

(NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that Qualcomm's attorney declined comment.)

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced as an attorney. Contact: 12029385713