The legal dispute between Waymo, Google’s autonomous car division, and Uber over the theft of trade secrets ended in an agreement between the companies. However, the former engineer who allegedly stole the information could still be convicted.
On Tuesday (27), the United States Attorney’s Office made 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of Google secrets. Prosecutors say the crimes were carried out by Anthony Levandowski.
According to the prosecution, Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 files with classified information linked to Waymo research. The engineer reportedly transferred the files to his personal notebook before leaving the company in 2016.
In the same year, Levandowski created Otto, his autonomous truck startup. It was bought for $ 680 million by Uber, where the engineer went to work. In February 2017, Waymo sued Uber and Levandowski.
“Otto and Uber took Waymo’s intellectual property to avoid the risks, time and costs of independently developing their own technology,” said the company in its action.
The stolen material includes proprietary circuit board schematics and designs from Lidar, a light sensor technology used by Waymo’s autonomous cars.
The engineer was fired by Uber in May 2017. In February 2018, the company agreed to pass 0.34% of its shares to Waymo to close the case. The deal, however, did not end the charge against Levandowski.
If convicted, the engineer could face up to 10 years in prison, a $ 250,000 fine for each of the 33 charges and an extra refund. His lawyers say he has not stolen any trade secrets and that the allegations resume a case that was resolved more than a year and a half ago.
“The downloads in question occurred while Anthony was still working at Google – when he and his team were allowed to use the information,” they say. “None of these supposedly secret files went to Uber or any other company.”
With information: New York Times.