back to article Robocar tech biz sues Nvidia, claims stolen code shared in Teams meeting blunder

Nvidia is facing legal action in the US for theft of trade secrets from a German automotive company, which alleges its ex-employee made an epic blunder of showing something he shouldn't have when minimizing a Powerpoint slide at a joint Microsoft Teams meeting both companies were attending. The automotive firm, Valeo Schalter …

  1. mikus

    One slide to rule them all

    If your company hinges on something in a slide deck, you probably have bigger problems.

    1. Glennda37

      Re: One slide to rule them all

      That isn't what it said..... He minimalised a slide deck and had a copy of their source code open, assuming in some sort of development tool.

      1. Chris Evans

        Re: One slide to rule them all

        I suspect no code itself was on screen but a filer view showing "the file path on his screen still read 'ValeoDocs." with recognisable source code file names.

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: One slide to rule them all

        Unless there was an NDA in place prior to the meeting then the only issue is actual copyright violation.

        If the names are the same in both sets of source code, it does not look good. How they got the code is irrelevant. The fact that they copied it, is.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. TonyJ

      Re: Oh FFS.

      I don't think you grasped the full picture. It wasn't the 5 second flash of it that was the issue. That flash of it, was evidence - as backed up by the audit - that the guy had stolen code wholesale and was reusing it. He was no longer working for the vendor at the time of the call, you see.

      I hope you code better than you read articles... ;-)

      1. teknopaul

        Re: Oh FFS.

        N ida have been fully busted on this one. Culprit has admitted it. Question now is, like Trumps case, just about the damages

    2. SW10
      Facepalm

      Re: Oh FFS, FFS

      I really can't see how a single page would be of any use to someone who wasn't intimately familiar with the project.

      Did you read the bit* where the person responsible admitted to, and was convicted of, stealing the code?

      There was 6 GB of "priceless" code.

      What was "seen in a 5-second flash of a screen" was one of Valeo’s source code files and a file path including the term “ValeoDocs”, which alerted the Valeo people to the possibility he'd nicked their IP.

      ---

      * Moniruzzaman, when questioned by the German police, admitted to stealing Valeo’s software and using the code while employed at Nvidia, according to the court filing. The filing adds that he was convicted in Germany for unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure of Valeo’s trade secrets in September this year.

  3. Snowy Silver badge
    Holmes

    Puzzled

    Somewhat puzzled if they where working with Nvidia the code would have been shared anyway?

    Someone leaves and goes to work for a competitor and they do not check to see if they have taken anything with them (should check they have any of your secrets even if they do not go to work with a competitor anyway?

    1. DS999 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Puzzled

      Does no one read even skim the articles anymore? There are several clueless posts like this one on this article where it is blatantly obvious the poster did not read the article.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: Puzzled

        No, it's one of the wonders that social media has given us. On social media like Facebook or Reddit you are presented with the commends first and then need to click to open the article. So people have become accustom to reading the comments to find out the story instead of just reading the article.

      2. ChoHag Silver badge

        Re: Puzzled

        If you take the time to skim the article, you won't get to make the frist post and lose all the bragging rights that come with showing off how slavishly you're following a newspaper's web comment forum.

      3. dinsdale54

        Re: Puzzled

        Quite! This isn't slashdot (yet)

      4. Snowy Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Puzzled

        Clearly you did not read all my post either!!

        Let me break it down for you.

        Somewhat puzzled if they where working with Nvidia the code would have been shared anyway?

        This was a little unclear but the puzzled part was why he would have the documents open when talking with the very people he stole them from, he should have know better.

        Someone leaves and goes to work for a competitor and they do not check to see if they have taken anything with them (should check they have any of your secrets even if they do not go to work with a competitor anyway?

        Yes he stole the information ( a crime) but should it have been possible to steal and get away with it?

        He left them and started to work for a major competitor and they did not think to check if he took any information with him, it was only after he got caught did they check what was copied.

  4. I am David Jones Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thanks

    Thumbs up for adding the case details at the bottom of the article, very useful

  5. b1k3rdude

    How is it that several commentors have utterly failed to grasp the basics of what happened, even its its been f***ing SPELLED out to them.

    The issue WASNT that the code showed on screen, clearly it was ALREADY open and it DEMONSTRATED that the employee had most lickley already shared details of the bloody code with someone! When this same prick then went to WORK for nvidia, that was the basis for the lawsuit. Some of you are about as on the ball, as that idiot engineer...

  6. Scott 26

    We are in the middle of our mandatory annual "compliance" training.. one module is Ethics and covers the re-use of company IP... have sent my team this article as a real-world example of what not to do.

    1. Deni

      Hopefully 'do not steal' is something they do not need training to know.

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Every year at my former employer we all had to complete mandatory training - antitrust, ethics, and so on.

      A game I played - hey, I had to find my amusement where I could - was, when asked by my manager whether I'd done them, to rack as many "violations" as possible into my response.

      It ended up as something like "sure, boss, I bribed an underage child of a North Korean government official to do the training for me by offering to get him a job in return for that and finalizing my Confidential company project..."

  7. trevorde Silver badge

    Accidentally obfuscated code

    Worked for a company where a disgruntled ex-employee tried to sell our source code to a competitor for $1M USD. Competitor immediately brought in the FBI who caught him in a sting operation. All the devs thought it was a great idea because if none of *us* understood the code, then what chance would our competitor have?

  8. Pete Sdev Bronze badge
    Happy

    Captain Obvious

    Had to chuckle at this.

    "The automotive firm, Valeo Schalter und Sensoren"

    "Valeo develops automotive hardware such as ... and sensors"

    Germans have a strong tendancy to being very literal, and that includes names of companies sometimes.

  9. aerogems Silver badge

    Not entirely convinced

    OK, sounds like the guy took some stuff with him when he left that he shouldn't have, but it's still a bit of a stretch to go from there to him using it in anything nVidia has produced. He could have just had the code up as a reference for how he solved a particular problem at the previous place and what went into nVidia's repos was different. I'm sure if the lawsuit gets far enough along nVidia will be forced to hand over copies of the code and someone will probably be hired to scour it looking for examples of identical code. Hopefully they don't try to go to Oracle levels of stupidity and claim that API names being the same is enough. Still, a company the size of nVidia is generally going to be very careful about this sort of thing, and make absolutely clear that they don't want you bringing anything from a previous employer into their workplace. If you recreate something from memory, that's one thing, but don't try to give us a bunch of code or proprietary documentation because we will fire you if you do.

    1. Zibob Bronze badge

      Re: Not entirely convinced

      Except he admitted it and was convicted for it...

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Not entirely convinced

        Fair enough, I missed that paragraph it seems.

  10. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    One Scenario

    nVidia loses. A herd of lawyers armed with writs and official court documents presents a court-backed demand for: (1) all backup media of all servers and PCs which contain or have accessed the code in question, as of the date of Mr. M's hire by nVidia, and (2) deletion of all repositories and files containing the code in question off nVidia's servers and PCs.

    nVidia techie asks lawyer: "You want me to delete all the files and directories with this source code off our servers and PCs?"

    Lawyer: "RIght, I want to see the commands you use, and I want to check the directories afterward. I know the command line."

    nVidia techie: (Uses command line to fire off multiple, independent processes to delete the relevant files and directories.)

    Lawyer: (Uses command lines to verify relevant files and folders are gone from a sampling of servers and PCs, and is satisfied. Gets up and leaves, following office staff pushing carts full of nVidia's backup media out the door.)

    nVidia Manager: "This is a major setback which will negatively affect our stock price .. and the value of my stock options! Get this! You will work like dogs to make up for this. Seven-day workweeks! 16-hour days! Get cracking, or get the fuck out!" (Manager stomps out of room. Later that day ...)

    nVidia Techie #A: "Boss doesn't understand how ZFS and snapshotting work, does he? Should we tell him?"

    nVidia Techie #B: "Nope. If you've got your resume updated, we can pop 'round to the copy shop after work."

    nVidia Techie #A: "Right, see you then."

  11. edjimf

    Not the brightest of sparks

    Why would you:

    a - have a window open with code you knew you had nicked while you were on a Teams call with the people you nicked it from, and

    b - share your whole desktop and not just the PowerPoint window with the slide deck?

    Arrogance or stupidity? Either way he's not the sharpest of tools...

    1. aerogems Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Not the brightest of sparks

      Check out subs for things like Plex or similar services on Reddit. People literally post screenshots of themselves playing pirated content and asking for help because they can't figure out why it doesn't work. I mean... I always figured if you're going to pirate something, the basic understanding is that you either figure out how to fix problems yourself or you pay for whatever it is. And if you're going to ask for help, you at least are a bit circumspect about things. You don't explicitly mention that you're using a pirated version of Photoshop or that you got the latest episode of ${Popular_TV_Show} from a torrent. Everyone is still going to know exactly what's going on, but no one will be able to out and out prove it. I mean it takes what, a few seconds to crop a photo and maybe black out the name before posting it somewhere the entire world can see?

      Much as I feel old for saying this, kids these days don't seem to even bother to think this sort of thing through. They just post full screen captures showing plain as day that they're pirating something. They don't even bother trying to hide it at all. They happily post screenshots of them playing shit from Netflix or something, where it's not even one of the shows they may have done a Bluray release of, meaning it's at least possible the poster bought and ripped their own copy. In my day, if you pirated shit, you at least made the lawyers for the copyright owner sing for their supper a little. You didn't just hand them everything they needed for an airtight case against you. And boy do the little sprogs get pissed at you if you point out their stupidity.

  12. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Smartest move

    If I were NVidia I would think the smartest move would be a complete and contrite mea culpa and try and cut an IP sharing deal that at least in the immediate term seriously advantages the wronged party. Everyone might actually then be a winner - the auto oem customers included (everyone except the lawyers.:)

    Never happen - why mitigate when you can litigate?

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