5 August 2020Muireann Bolger

Ex-Google engineer Levandowski jailed for trade secrets theft

Disgraced former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski will spend 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets  before joining Uber and kickstarting the ride-sharing company’s self-driving car development.

Judge William Alsup imposed the sentence yesterday, August 4, at the  US District Court for the Northern District of California after Levandowski pleaded to stealing trade secrets when he left Google’s self-driving subsidiary  Waymo in 2016.

According to  Reuters, the judge claimed that the conspiracy was the “biggest trade-secret crime” he had ever seen and that a sentence short of imprisonment would have given “a green light to every future brilliant engineer to steal trade secrets”.

On March 19, Levandowski submitted documents to the US Department of Justice, requesting that the court accept his plea of guilty to theft of trade secrets charges, after which he  was ordered to pay Google $179 million.

Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files containing confidential engineering, manufacturing, and business documents from Google servers before resigning without notice in 2016. According to prosecutors, the files contained “critical engineering information” about the hardware used in the development of Google’s self-driving vehicles.

Before resigning in 2016, Levandowski headed Google’s Light Detecting and Ranging ( LiDAR) engineering department. LiDAR is an essential technology in the development of self-driving vehicles. Levandowski then founded his own self-driving vehicle start-up, Ottomotto, which was later bought out by Uber for a reported $680 million.

Levandowski has now filed for bankruptcy protection. Both Uber and Google have been contacted for comment.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Today's top stories

Dr Pepper fails to revive fight against Coca-Cola's 'Zero' at Fed Circuit

No COVID-19 spike in digital piracy, UKIPO report reveals

Fed Circuit affirms jury powers in SEP cases

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at atapping@newtonmedia.co.uk

More on this story

21 August 2020   The saga of former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski’s imprisonment for trade secrets theft has highlighted the need for all businesses to be vigilant when it comes to safeguarding confidential information, as Oliver Laing and Christie Batty of Potter Clarkson argue.
28 August 2019   A California grand jury has indicted former Uber executive Anthony Levandowski for stealing trade secrets relating to self-driving cars from Google.
20 March 2020   Anthony Levandowski, the former head of Uber’s self-driving unit, has agreed to plead guilty to stealing trade secrets from his former employer Google before joining Uber and kickstarting the ride-sharing company’s self-driving car development.