Stealing Autonomous Car Secrets from Google Lands Former Exec in Jail
7 Août 2020 - autoevolution
Autonomous cars are without a doubt the next wonder of public transportation.
There are a number of companies now researching such tech, including ones that generally have nothing to do with cars per se. And at times the competition between them is so fierce that it ends in lawsuits.
Back in 2018, after a few short battles in court, two of the biggest names in the segment, Waymo and Uber, settled their differences for roughly $245 million. The beef was centered around alleged trade secrets theft perpetrated by a former Waymo executive who found a job at Uber.
That exec's name is Anthony Levandowski, and even if the companies he once worked for eventually made peace, problems didn't end for him. Actually, they're just beginning, as a judge handed him this week an 18-months prison sentence and ordered him to pay $850,000 in damages.
Levandowski worked for Google's Waymo before getting tired of it and setting up his own company, Otto. This entity ended up in possession of Uber, and Levandowski got involved with the ride-sharing giant's autonomous efforts.
He allegedly did so using "a trove of Google's self-driving car technology" as per AP, or around 14,000 proprietary design files downloaded from company servers as per Google. Word is he did so using specialized software and even tried to cover his tracks, but left incriminating details behind.
Among the things he allegedly stole where secrets that involved the LiDAR system that was later deployed on Otto's self-driving trucks.
The man eventually ended up being charged with 33 counts of intellectual property theft. As per a deal he made, he pleaded guilty to one account, hence the prison sentence mentioned above. The bulk of the $850,000 fine is to be paid to Waymo for the costs it incurred while helping with the investigation.