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It’s not news that tech reporting has morphed into the crime beat. But the recent charges of sticky fingers by an administrative assistant at the Barksdale Group and two Lucent employees are likely to be a mere warm-up for the Avant trade-secrets trial. Never heard of it? You will. Jury selection began Monday. Media coverage so far is minimal, but reporters are expecting high drama in what the San Jose Mercury News is billing “the most brazen example of intellectual property theft to ever hit the tech industry.” The Avant case dates back to 1991, when four employees of Cadence Design Systems resigned to form Avant, a maker of chip-design software. Cadence claims the new company was built using its trade secrets. The Mercury News quoted Avant lead attorney Dan Bookin as saying, “This is a business dispute between two companies that should be resolved in the civil courts, not criminal court.” You know business tactics have entered an era of new lows when corporate defense attorneys long for the days of civil suits. After years of delays, a grand jury filed charges last summer against Avant and eight employees that included securities fraud, trade-secret theft, conspiracy to commit trade-secret theft, and receiving stolen property, according to News.com. Defendants include Avant CEO Gerald Hsu and four company founders. News.com penned a thorough backgrounder on the trial, and as the hometown newspaper for the San Jose drama, the Mercury News had two stories on the case Monday. By the standards of most local criminal cases, the Avant prosecution is astoundingly complex, according to the newspaper, and the district attorney’s office has staked its reputation on “this rare attempt to pin criminal sanctions on a company and its top executives for trade secrets theft.” Cadence has good reason to make itself and any of its documents available to prosecutors: Avant holds a significant chunk of Cadence’s market for software tools. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: AT&T and BT: Breaking Up Together Can You Budget for Elections? ICANN’t Terra Lycos Flirts with CNET, EarthLink Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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