Former Waymo and Uber self-driving technology engineer Anthony Levandowski has been charged by federal prosecutors with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets.
Levandowski made consistent headlines throughout 2017 and 2018 after Waymo, the self-driving division of Alphabet, filed a lawsuit against Uber claiming that he stole 14,000 documents from the technology company relating to proprietary information about its self-driving cars.
Upon leaving Alphabet, Levandowski went on to found self-driving truck startup Otto and sold it for $680 million to Uber. Waymo claims that Uber ended up with these stolen files after acquiring Otto. The saga included a high profile lawsuit between Waymo and Uber and upon being put on the stand, Levandowski repeatedly pleaded the Fifth. The lawsuit was ultimately settled with Alphabet receiving a 0.3 per cent stake in Uber.
The new criminal charges filed against Levandowski assert that he stole documents containing drawings and schematic pertaining to circuitry and LIDAR units which were used in Waymo’s self-driving cars. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution, for every count if he is convicted.
In a statement issued to The Verge, attorneys for Levandowski, Miles Ehrlich and Ismail Ramsey, denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the self-driving engineer.
“For more than a decade, Anthony Levandowski has been an industry-leading innovator in self-driving technologies. He didn’t steal anything, from anyone. This case rehashes claims already discredited in a civil case that settled more than a year and a half ago,” they said. “The downloads at issue occurred while Anthony was still working at Google—when he and his team were authorized to use the information. None of these supposedly secret files ever went to Uber or to any other company. Over these last couple years, Anthony has continued to lead the development of new and innovative safe-driving technologies to advance this ground-breaking industry. Anthony is innocent, and we look forward to proving it at trial.”