Ex-Microsoft employee charged with leaking trade secrets to blogger

Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:03pm IST

The Microsoft logo is seen at their offices in Bucharest March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel/Files

The Microsoft logo is seen at their offices in Bucharest March 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bogdan Cristel/Files

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REUTERS - A former employee of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) is facing criminal charges after he allegedly passed trade secrets to a blogger in France, U.S. court documents showed.

Russian national Alex Kibkalo, a former Microsoft employee in Lebanon and Russia, admitted to Microsoft investigators that he provided confidential company documents and information to the blogger, documents from a Seattle federal court showed.

The blogger, who was not identified, was known to those in the Microsoft blogging community for posting screenshots of pre-release version of the Windows Operating System. The blogger hid his identity stating falsely that he was from Quebec, according to the documents.

An internal investigation by Microsoft revealed unauthorized transmissions of proprietary and confidential trade secrets, according to the court documents. An email from Kibkalo was found within the blogger's Hotmail account, establishing that he shared confidential data.

"We take protection of our intellectual property very seriously, including cooperating with law-enforcement agencies who are investigating potential criminal actions by our employees or others," a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

A lawyer representing Kibkalo could not be reached for comment immediately outside regular U.S. business hours.

The court documents said during interviews, the blogger admitted to posting information on Twitter and his websites and selling Windows Server activation keys on eBay.

According to Microsoft's investigation, in July and August 2012, Kibkalo uploaded proprietary software including pre-release software updates of Windows 8 RT and ARM devices, as well as the Microsoft Activation Server Software Development Kit (SDK) to a computer in Washington and subsequently to his personal Windows Live SkyDrive account.

Microsoft product teams use the SDK in customizing their product code to ensure proper validation in the product key activation process.

Kibkalo, who worked with Microsoft for seven years, received a poor performance review in 2012 and threatened to resign if the review was not amended, the documents showed.

According to an FBI agent who was part of the investigation, Kibkalo has relocated to Russia and based on a LinkedIn account, he is currently working for another U.S.-based technology company with offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The case is in USA v. Kibkalo, Case No 2:14-mj-00114-MAT, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle.

(Reporting by Chris Peters in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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