SAN JOSE, California – One of Silicon Valley's premier self-driving technology technologists, Anthony Levandowski, was charged by the federal prosecutor's office on Tuesday with charges for theft and theft against Google's business secrets.
The US Department of Public Prosecutor's Criminal Prosecution in Northern California is opening a new chapter in a lawsuit involving Google, its self-driving auto offshoot Waymo, and rival Uber in the competing for autonomous vehicles. The case also highlights the unparalleled culture of Silicon Valley, where it can be critical to gain a lead in new technologies compared to competitors.
According to the complaint, Levandowski, who has worked on self-driving cars at Google, downloaded more than 14,000 files containing important information on Google's autonomy research before leaving. He then committed an unauthorized transfer of the files to his personal laptop it said in the complaint. Later that year, Levandowski joined Uber as the hailer bought his new self-propelled truck startup called Otto.
Some of the files Levandowski took from Google included private circuit diagrams for corporate circuit boards and designs for the light sensor technology known as Lidar, which according to the complaint is used in self-driving cars.
"The Bay Area has the best and brightest engineers and they take great risks," John Bennett told the FBI Special Agent for the San Francisco Division at a press conference on Tuesday. "But Silicon Valley is not the wild west. The fast and competitive environment does not mean that the federal laws do not apply. "
The US law firm said Levandowski, 39, was in federal court this morning in San Jose. If convicted, Mr. Levandowski faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $ 250,000 fine for each count and an additional refund.
Prosecutor in the northern district of California. "What we can not do is stuff our bags on the way to the door."
Mr. The lawyers of Levandowski, Miles Erlich and Ismail Ramsey, said in a statement that he did not steal anything from anyone.
said. "The downloads in question took place when Anthony was still working on Google – when he and his team had permission to use the information. None of these allegedly secret files ever went to Uber or any other company. "
Uber stated in a statement that the company" has and will continue to work with the government throughout the investigation.
Suzanne Philion, a spokeswoman for Waymo, said the company had "always believed that competition should be fueled by innovation, and we appreciate the work of the US Attorney's Office and the FBI in this case.
The prosecution follows a comparison between Waymo and Uber in a trade secret case. In February 2017, Waymo accused the hail-fighting company, Mr. Levandowski, and others of stealing self-driving automobile technology. The case was brought to trial in San Francisco in February 2018, captivating the tech industry with testimonials on the inside of technology companies, rivalry among billionaire tech entrepreneurs, and cutthroat competition for engineering talent. Waymo agreed with Uber and agreed to 0.34 Deliver percent of its shares to Alphabet, the parent company of Waymo and Google. But Mr Levandowski's situation was not resolved by the agreement. The federal judge in the case referred it to the United States law firm for a possible criminal investigation of Mr. Levandowski's conduct.
Levandowski was a pioneer in autonomous vehicle research. He became known for his technology as a Ph.D. student at the University of California at Berkeley in 2004 when he designed a self-propelled motorcycle that participated in the Autonomous Vehicle's first Pentagon competition.
At Google, Mr. Levandowski joined in the last decade and was a confidant of Larry Page, one of the co-founders of the company. Mr. Levandowski eventually led many aspects of the self-drive program in the company's secret "Google X" division. Google's self-driving vehicle unit was later spun off in Waymo.
In 2016, Mr. Levandowski left Google to found Otto, a self-driving truck company. He took a small army of Google engineers with him. Otto was quickly taken over by Uber for almost $ 700 million. The deal was driven by Travis Kalanick, the then managing director of Uber. He had the vision to build a fleet of self-propelled robots that would replace Uber's hundreds of thousands of human drivers.
In 2017, Waymo Uber, Mr Levandowski and Otto sued for stealing trade secrets.
"Otto and Uber have acquired Waymos intellectual property to avoid the risk, time and expense of independently developing their own technology," Waymo said in his lawsuit. The relationship between Uber and Mr. Levandowski quickly moved south , Appealing to his fifth right of amendment to avoid self-incrimination in the case of Waymo, Mr Levandowski was fired by Uber in May 2017.
year. "All Uber has to show for Anthony Levandowski is this lawsuit."
Mr. Levandowski, who has made millions of dollars in his work and selling his start-ups, has not stepped down. In December, he interviewed The Guardian about his new self-driving startup, Pronto.AI, claiming he had built a car that had gone from San Francisco to New York without human intervention.