Last week a man charged with stealing proprietary technology from AltaVista search engine two years was arrested. No big deal right, well this man also is an employee at Microsoft and has been working on Microsoft’s new MSN Search technology. Lets see how long till AltaVista presses charges against the software giant Microsoft.

A Kirkland man arrested last week on allegations that he stole proprietary technology from the AltaVista search engine two years ago is a Microsoft Corp. employee who has been working on the Redmond company’s MSN Search initiative. Federal authorities allege that Laurent Chavet, a former AltaVista employee, illegally accessed the California company’s computer system in March 2002 and June 2002, after he left AltaVista and well before he went to work for Microsoft. Chavet, then living in California, copied to his home computer source code that was used by AltaVista “to perform the function of scouring the World Wide Web,” according to an FBI affidavit.

Chavet’s arrest was announced by the U.S. attorney in northern California last week without reference to his current employment. Microsoft acknowledged yesterday that Chavet is a Microsoft employee but declined to name the team on which he works. However, three other people with knowledge of Chavet’s Microsoft employment confirmed that he has been working on the MSN Search effort. A brief biography attached to a paper Chavet co-wrote on text analytics described him as an expert “in all aspects of search technology.” He worked at IBM’s Almaden Research Center after leaving AltaVista and before joining Microsoft.

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