- Former Uber executive Anthony Levandowski has agreed to plead guilty for stealing Google's trade secrets.
- Levandowski earlier worked with Google before he joined Uber.
- Google alleged that Levandowski stole details regarding company's self-driving car project.
Anthony Levandowski, a former Uber-bigwig, has agreed to plead guilty for stealing Google's trade secrets. The documents he allegedly stole were about self-driving cars from Google, his former employee. According to reports, Levandowski did so before joining Uber. Levandowski reportedly shared the stolen Google's self-driving car tech with Uber.
Levandowski now looks at 24-30 months of prison on grounds of theft and attempted theft. He was slapped with 33 charges of indictment alleging theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. According to reports, Levandowski only owned up to one of these 33 charges. He allegedly stole a document called "Chauffeur TL weekly updates - Q4 2015". Levandowski co-founded Project Chauffeur in 2009 when he was still working with Google.
Google is one of the first movers in the space of self-driving cars and the company alleged that the secrets Levandowski stole gave unfair advantage to Uber, which in the last few years has worked on self-driving cars.
The plea proposed by Levendowski stated that he was guilty of lifting and tracking the Chauffeur document. It also requested the court to dismiss the rest of charges. If the plea is accepted Levandowski will only serve the time in prison for stealing the document and not for actually using them when he was working at Uber.
"Levandowski accepts responsibility and is looking forward to resolving this matter. Levandowski is a young man with enormous talents and much to contribute to the fast-moving world of AI and AV and we hope that this plea will allow him to move on with his life and focus his energies where they matter most," his attorney, Miles Ehrlich told media in the US.
Levandowski had quit Google in 2016. He went to join Uber as the head of the self-driving car project. From there, he was fired after he faced allegations for IP theft from his previous employer. The case alleged that the 40-year-old had downloaded 14,000 files from Google's self-driving subsidiary, Waymo.
These files had information which would help self-driving cars perceive the world around them, a sort of trade secret that would give any company a huge advantage in the race to create viable self-driving cars. The files concerned Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) tech. Levandowski, after he quit from Google, took these files to a start-up called Ottomotto which was then acquired by Uber.
Google sued Uber but in 2018 the companies settled for $245m in Uber stock. Levandowski had filed for bankruptcy earlier this month as Google had sued him for $179 million.