Self-driving car engineer Levandowski pleads guilty to stealing Google secrets

Self-driving car engineer Levandowski pleads guilty to stealing Google secrets
Lawsuits involving tech giants have never been an uncommon occurrence. This time we are witnessing a lawsuit involving an ex-employee, accused of stealing from one of the world’s most influential tech companies, Google. Reuters reports that Anthony Levandowski, former Uber engineer who worked on developing self-driving vehicles, is now pleading guilty on one count for intellectual theft of some of Google’s trade secrets.

The lawsuit was filed by Google and its sister company Waymo back in 2017. It concerned the late 2015 and early 2016 time period, when Levandowski quit Google and allegedly stole some of their trade secrets (around 14,000 confidential files).

Later, he allegedly used them to launch a company called Ottomoto, for which he also brought some of Google’s engineers. Otto was later bought by Uber. Therefore, the engineer’s work became a significant force in Uber’s self-driving cars’ development, as he was appointed the head of the division.

If convicted, Levandowksi could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison based on a 33-count accusation. However, he recently accepted a plea deal on one count, which was charging him for unlawfully downloading a file with technical targets for Google’s self-driving vehicles project.

In court papers, Levandowski stated that he planned on using the file for personal reasons and he acknowledged that he shouldn’t have done that and did not have the authorization for doing it.

In consequence, the plea deal presents Levandowski with a possible prison sentence for no more than 30 months. His attorney, Miles Ehrlich, stated that he hopes the plea will help Levandowski move on with his life and engineering work. Previously, Uber had issued company stock to Google’s owner company, Alphabet, in an attempt to settle.

What’s more, Levandowski declared bankruptcy on March 4, after a California state court ruled that he owed $179 million to Google for violating his employment contract. Nevertheless, he agreed to pay nearly $756,500 for Alphabet’s costs for the investigation.

Usually Uber has an employee agreement in which it compensates its employees on such occasions or pays their costs, however, reportedly, the company has refused to pay on behalf of Levandowski in this case.

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