Former Google engineer charged in trade secrets theft case

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP/KRON) – A former Google engineer is being charged with stealing closely guarded secrets that he later sold to Uber as the ride-hailing service scrambled to catch up in the high-stakes race to build robotic vehicles.

The indictment filed Tuesday against Anthony Levandowski by the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Jose, is an offshoot of a lawsuit filed in 2017 by Waymo, a self-driving car pioneer spun off from Google.

“Levandowski was a high ranking Google executive with a responsibility for a major engineering team within Google’s self-driving car project,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson.

Uber agreed to pay Waymo $245 million to settle the 2017 case, but the federal judge overseeing the lawsuit made an unusual recommendation to open a criminal probe.

Uber considered having self-driving technology crucial to survive.

The indictment alleges Levandowski downloaded thousands of pages of Google files from “Project Chauffeur,” later known as “Waymo.”  

The complaint alleges he would later use the files in working on self-driving car development for his own company and for the ride-hailing company Uber.  

Levandowski’s attorney Miles Ehrlich says the allegations are false.

“The evidence in this case is going to show conclusively that Anthony did not steal anything, not from Google, not from anyone, period,” his attorney said.

The U.S attorney said all of us have a right to change jobs but no one has the right to fill their pockets on the way out the door. 

“The indictment alleges that each of these trade secrets was reasonably protected by Google, have economic value and were not generally known,” Anderson said.

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