- Anthony Levandowski has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pled guilty to theft.
- He allegedly stole 14,000 files containing important trade secrets from Google before he left the company in 2016.
- Levandowski has filed another new lawsuit to demand $4.1 billion from Uber.
Anthony Levandowski, an ex-Google engineer pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Levandowski was an engineer who was part of a self-driving car project in Google before he joined Uber.
On Tuesday, US District Judge in San Francisco, William Alsup said that home confinement would be “a green light to every future brilliant engineer to steal trade secrets. Prison time is the answer to that”.
After he left Google, Levandowski brought stolen files related to self-driving car technology to Uber, while he built out the rival’s autonomous driving unit.
Levandowski agreed to pay $756,499.22 in restitution to Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo and a fine of $95,000.
The theft spurred a high-profile lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, a former self- driving car project which Google started in 2007 during which it hired Levandowski to be part of the project.
When Levandowski left Google in 2016, he started his own self-driving truck company called Otto, during which he allegedly downloaded 14,000 files from his laptop which was issued by Google. Uber acquired Otto less than eight months.
The files included trade secrets related to Waymo’s LIDAR, technology, circuit board designs and testing documentation. This resulted in him facing 33 counts of intellectual property theft. He pled guilty to one count during Tuesday’s sentencing.
After two months of Uber’s acquisition of Otto, Google made arbitration demands against Levandowski. Under the indemnification agreement between Uber and Levandowski, the company had to defend the former engineer.
However, the lawsuit settled in 2018 under which Uber agreed to not incorporate Waymo’s information into their software and hardware.
Levandowski recently filed a lawsuit to demand $4.1 billion from Uber in relation to its acquisition of Otto Trucking, TechCrunch reported.
US Attorney David Anderson called his theft a “brazen and shocking” act that seemed driven by ego as much as greed.
“Levandowski’s actions suggest he wanted to be seen as the singular inventor of the self-driving car, the way Alexander Graham Bell is credited with inventing the telephone.”
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