Former senior engineer at Google’s owner Alphabet has been charged with criminal charges by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
Anthony Levandowski has been alleged to have stolen car technology secrets. Reports suggest, the 39-year old has been accused of 33 counts of trade theft which also involves Alphabet’s self-driving car technology.
According to sources, Levandowski walked out of Alphabet’s Waymo unit back in 2016. Later he was responsible for Uber’s self-driving car project, but was dismissed soon after.
The American self-driving car engineer currently runs his own company and has denied the charges he has been pressed with. “Not a single one of these supposedly secret files ever went to Uber or to any other company or person,” commented Miles Ehrlich, a lawyer for Levandowski.
A lawsuit between Waymo and Uber was settled in 2018. Levandowski was however not part of the case and he also did not speak about it in the public.
The current allegation suggests that Levandowski downloaded thousands of data files back in 2015, before he left Waymo. Reports suggest, the files were about Alphabet’s self-driving car technology and possessed details about the Lidar, which is an important crucial sensor technology meant for self-driving cars.
“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,” commented Californian federal prosecutor David Anderson. “Theft is not innovation,” he added.
Previous settlement from 2018 suggested that technology companies were in competition to lead the autonomous technology market. Uber had also pledged to not use Alphabet’s technology, in addition to giving Waymo a 0.34% stake in Uber.
According to sources, Levandowski could be sentenced to 10 years of jail, in addition to be charged with a fine of $250,000 per count, $8.25m in total.