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Ex-Uber Executive Pleads Guilty To Stealing Google's Trade Secrets

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Ex-Uber Executive Pleads Guilty To Stealing Google's Trade Secrets

Anthony Levandowski, an engineer credited with developing Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL)(NASDAQ: GOOG) autonomous vehicle unit, pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets from the internet giant on Thursday.

What Happened

Levandowski started his own autonomous vehicle company after leaving Alphabet’s Google in 2016, which was then acquired by Uber. Meanwhile, Waymo grew as an autonomous vehicle business the same year.

In 2017, Waymo sued Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER), alleging the rideshare company had purchased Levandowski’s company to access Waymo’s trade secrets, reported the New York Times.

Uber fired Levandowski in 2017 and settled the suit with Google in 2018. Waymo accused Lewandowski of poaching its employees to work for his own company and filed criminal charges against him in August 2019. 

Why It Matters

Prosecutors alleged that Levandowski had stolen more than 14,000 files related to Waymo’s autonomous vehicle program. He was charged with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets, reported the Times.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Levandowski pleaded guilty to one count of trade secret theft carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, plus a fine of $250,000. He said in his plea agreement that he intended to download Google’s files for his own “personal benefit.” Levandowski stated, “I understand that I was not authorized to take the files for this purpose.”

What Else

Both Waymo and Uber are facing difficulties in developing commercially viable autonomous vehicle technology and are seeking outside funding for their respective projects.

Price Action 

Alphabet class A shares traded 0.11% lower at $1,110.49 on Thursday in the after-hours session. The shares had closed the regular session 1.88% higher at $1,111.67. The company’s class C shares traded 0.91% lower at $1,105.10 in the after-hours market. The shares had closed the regular session 1.69% higher at $1,115.29.

On the same day, Uber shares traded 2.29% lower at $20.02 after-hours, and 38.26% higher at $20.49 in the regular session.

Photo Credit: Public domain photo via Wikimedia.

 

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Posted-In: Google The New York TimesNews Legal Management Tech Media General Best of Benzinga

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