Ex-Uber engineer indicted over Google self-driving car trade secret theft

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2019
Antony Levandowski, the former head of Uber's self-driving vehicle efforts, has been indicted by a California federal grand jury for stealing trade secrets from Google, taken from the search giant's own self-driving efforts before changing employer.




The former Google and Uber engineer has been charged with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets while he was under the employment of Google. If convicted, Levandowski faces up to ten years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 for each violation, as well as restitution.

The indictment claims Levandowski downloaded a variety of files relating to engineering, manufacturing, and business for Google's LiDAR and self-driving technology, reports TechCrunch. The withdrawal allegedly took place months before he resigned from Google in January 2016, without notice.

Levandowski will be arraigned on the charges on August 27 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathaniel M. Cousins.

U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson warned "All of us have the right to change jobs. None of us has the right to fill our pockets on the way out the door. Theft is not innovation." The prosecution is being pursued by the Corporate Fraud Strike Force of the Office of the U.S. Attorney, Northern District of California.

Due to the indictment, Levandowski has stepped down from his role as CEO of Pronto AI, another self-driving truck startup. Chief safety office Robbie Miller will be taking over as CEO.

Shortly after leaving Google, Levandowski started self-driving truck company Otto, which was in turn bought by Uber. Waymo, Google's spin-off of its self-driving technology, then sued Uber for trade secret theft.

During that ensuing lawsuit, Uber fired Levandowski in May 2017, after being sidelined from LiDAR work both by Uber's own decision, followed by a court injunction. The reasons for the firing are unknown, but it is likely due to the prospect of a criminal investigation at the time that forced Uber to add more distance between it and Levandowski.

Levandowski also refused to cooperate during the trial with neither Uber nor a federal judge, instead electing to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. Ultimately the lawsuit ended in February 2018 with a settlement, where Uber paid Waymo $244 million.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    Anthony is a brilliant human being that has left plenty of damage in his wake. Companies that haven't been mentioned in this article include Velodyne, Nokia/Here, TopCon, and Tyto, just to name a few.  He has made a ton of money in the process but it looks like he will now have to pay a dear price for his recklessness.  It's to bad he didn't have the character to play the game fair.
    doctwelveCloudTalkinronnstompy
  • Reply 2 of 11
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 355member
    He is a thief and should be punished to fullest extent of the law. When you go to work for a company they own everything you do and any idea you come up with. As an employee you are just a worker bee.
    ravnorodom
  • Reply 3 of 11
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,735member
    A thief and lier, a man with no ethics whatsoever going to work for Uber. Who would have thought that possible. /S
    ravnorodomronnFileMakerFellerlolliver
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    Uber

    ”Being crooks is in our DNA.”
    ronncornchipDAalsethFileMakerFellerlolliverCarnageGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 5 of 11
    Ironic though that google is claiming someone stole their trade secrets. 

    I guess what comes around really does go around. 
    FileMakerFellerlolliverGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 11
    Google, Uber.... they all seem to be fiddling about with “self-driving” while Tesla seems to be well on its way to actually testing autonomy in vehicles in real-life, real-world, average-driver-Joe/Jane conditions. 

    (No, I don’t own a Tesla. I love my ICE vehicle. Or TSLA. I love my AAPL). 
    edited August 2019 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 11
    I hate to post the links to a couple of articles but if you have the time to read them, they present a pretty good description of the path that Anthony took through the various companies over the years. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/did-uber-steal-googles-intellectual-property https://www.wired.com/story/eric-swildens-uber-waymo-lawsuit-patent/ This stuff would make a good miniseries for one of the streaming services.
    edited August 2019
  • Reply 8 of 11
    jimh2 said:
    When you go to work for a company they own everything you do and any idea you come up with. As an employee you are just a worker bee.
    What a sad way to operate. No wonder businesses have trouble finding motivated employees.
    Carnage
  • Reply 9 of 11
    gwydiongwydion Posts: 1,083member
    Ironic though that google is claiming someone stole their trade secrets. 

    I guess what comes around really does go around.  
    What trade secrets or other IP has stolen Google?
  • Reply 10 of 11
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    gwydion said:
    Ironic though that google is claiming someone stole their trade secrets. 

    I guess what comes around really does go around.  
    What trade secrets or other IP has stolen Google?
    Read up on Google/Oracle/Java 
  • Reply 11 of 11
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,185member
    Rayz2016 said:
    gwydion said:
    Ironic though that google is claiming someone stole their trade secrets. 

    I guess what comes around really does go around.  
    What trade secrets or other IP has stolen Google?
    Read up on Google/Oracle/Java 
    They didn't. Then they did. Then they didn't. Then they did again. Everything is still up in air.

    Typical big tech IP infringement claims that seem to go on forever, and all of them have their claims of stealing this or that from who and whoever.  They're all so rich it's like a never-ending story, appeal stacked on appeal with "who wins" as much about who can outlast and outspend. 
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