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Anthony Levandowski Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison For Stealing Trade Secrets From Google

TOPLINE

A U.S. federal judge sentenced Anthony Levandowski, the engineer who triggered a high-profile legal battle between Google parent Alphabet and Uber, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday after being found guilty on one count of stealing trade secrets from Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo before becoming the head of Uber’s self-driving car unit.

KEY FACTS

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said anything less than imprisonment would give “a green light to every future brilliant engineer to steal trade secrets,” describing the information that Levandowski took as a “competitor’s game plan.”

Levandowski was indicted in August 2019 by federal prosecutors on 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Google.

In March, he agreed to a plea deal, the same month he filed for bankruptcy after being ordered by a California court to pay Google $179 million for violating terms of his contract and separation agreement

He filed a lawsuit in San Francisco bankruptcy court on July 16 which, at its crux, argues that Uber has breached contracts with Levandowski causing him to suffer damages in an amount to be proven at trial, which his legal team estimates to be at least $4 billion.

Levandowski agreed Tuesday to pay $756,499.22 in restitution to Google and a fine of $95,000.

key background

Uber bought Levandowski’s driverless truck startup Otto in August 2016, and in February 2017 Waymo sued Uber in federal court claiming Levandowski took vast amounts of stolen data with him. Uber fired Levandowski and settled with Waymo in early 2018, giving it pre-IPO equity valued at $245 million and agreeing not to use any of its technology.

crucial quote

“The last three and a half years have forced me to come to terms with what I did. I want to take this time to apologize to my colleagues at Google for betraying their trust, and to my entire family for the price they have paid and will continue to pay for my actions,” Levandowski said.

further reading

Ex-Google, Uber Self-Driving Car Star Anthony Levandowski Indicted For Trade Secret Theft (Forbes)

Clash Of The Autonomous Titans: Alphabet’s Waymo Sues Uber Claiming Tech Theft (Forbes)

Everyone Walked Away A Winner In Uber-Waymo Settlement, But Most Of The Damage Had Already Been Done (Forbes)

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