Former Google employee Anthony Levandowski has been sued in the United States by the public prosecutor for stealing trade secrets. NBC News , among others, writes that.
Levandowski is accused of having stolen confidential information from Google. This concerns data about technology for self-driving cars. He would then have resold that information to Uber.
The former Google employee has a maximum of 10 years in prison if he is found guilty.
In a statement, Levandowski's lawyers say that their client has not stolen anything. "He is innocent and we look forward to proving that." A Waymo spokesperson said "to appreciate the work of the prosecutor and FBI in this case."
Legal case between Waymo and Uber
In 2017, Waymo sued the Uber taxi company. Waymo is a sister company of Google and focuses on the development of self-driving cars. The company said at the time that Levandowski "downloaded 14,000 confidential files" from Waymo's servers. For example, he would have come into the hands of designs for hardware systems for self-driving cars.
Uber denied having used stolen designs for its own systems for self-driving cars. But according to Waymo, Uber could never have developed self-driving cars so quickly without the stolen technology. A Lidar design (a radar technology that scans the environment) would also have great similarities with Waymo's design.
In the new indictment it is stated that Levandowski at the time took almost 10 gigabytes of secret data from his employer.
Companies settled last year
Levandowski left Google in 2016 to found Otto, a company that produced self-driving cars. This company was taken over by Uber after a few months for 680 million dollars.
Waymo and Uber reached a settlement in the court case in 2018. As part of this, Waymo would have acquired a stake in Uber equal to 0.34 percent of the total value of the company. At the time, that valuation amounted to around 245 million dollars.
Levandowski was fired from Uber and founded a new company: Pronto.ai. This company again focuses on technology for self-driving vehicles. At the end of 2017, Levandowski started a religious organization with the aim of "developing and promoting a divine figure based on artificial intelligence".