today announced that a federal judge has granted its motion for
a stay in a trade secret civil lawsuit brought against it and two of its
employees by competing electronic design automation software maker
Cadence Design Systems (CDN)
This stay puts the civil trial on hold until the criminal case involving
allegations of intellectual property theft is settled. Courts typically
grant a stay when there are parallel criminal and civil proceedings.
A source close to the lawsuit said shareholder suits pending against the
company were also granted a stay.
Cadence said the decision on the stay was not a surprise. "This paves the
way for criminal case, but they are just delaying the inevitable," said
Mike Sottak, a Cadence spokesman.
Avant said the stay will enable the company to continue focusing on
business, said Matt Lifschultz, a spokesman. "We will still vigorously
defend ourselves in the criminal trial, but our focus is on business not
the criminal trial. The focus is on developing technology, serving our
customers, and prevailing in the marketplace."
While Avant is delaying the civil suit, it will not be able to avoid the
criminal charges. "They're trying to jump out of the frying
pan, but the only place they can go is right into the fire,'' said Joe
Costello, president and CEO of Cadence, in a statement earlier this month.
"For a company which is supposedly in such a hurry to get the legal battles
against Cadence over with, Avant is certainly seeking at every turn to
postpone the inevitable. If they were sincere in their desire to see the
truth come out they would not seek to delay the civil proceedings,"
But the relief for Avant is that it no longer has to expend the resources
on the civil case for now, said one source, noting that it is difficult to
be involved in two cases covering the same information at the same time.
Now there will be no discrepancy between what is discussed at one case and what
is discussed the other, he said.
The source said that another favorable decision was granted last week to
Avant: A judge ruled to have files and records that were
apprehended in a 1995 police raid returned.
In June, shareholders filed a class-action suit against Avant, and felony
charges were filed against Avant executives in April for allegedly stealing
proprietary software technology from their former employer, Cadence.
The shareholder suit also alleges the company made misleading statements
and failed to disclose information about defendants' wrongful use of the
technology allegedly stolen from Cadence.
In April, Cadence charged that its competitor and its executives conspired
and stole trade secrets from Cadence.