San Ramon (US), August 5
A former Google engineer has been sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading responsible to stealing commerce secrets and techniques earlier than becoming a member of Uber’s effort to construct robotic autos for its ride-hailing service.
The sentence handed down on Tuesday by US District Judge William Alsup got here greater than 4 months after former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski reached a plea settlement with the federal prosecutors, who introduced a legal case in opposition to him final August.
Levandowski, who helped steer Google’s self-driving automotive challenge earlier than touchdown at Uber, was additionally ordered to pay greater than $8,50,000.
Alsup had taken the weird step of recommending the Justice Department open a legal investigation into Levandowski whereas presiding over a high-profile civil trial between Uber and Waymo, a by-product from a self-driving automotive challenge that Google started in 2007 after hiring Levandowski to be a part of its staff.
Levandowski finally turned disillusioned with Google and left the corporate in early 2016 to begin his personal self-driving truck firm, referred to as Otto, which Uber finally purchased for $680 million.
Before leaving Google, Levandowski downloaded a trove of Google’s self-driving automotive expertise, leading to him dealing with 33 counts of mental property theft. He wound up pleading responsible to at least one rely, culminating in Tuesday’s sentencing.
The accusations turned Levandowski, as soon as extremely regarded for his early inroads into self-driving vehicles, right into a infamous determine “almost synonymous with greed run amok in Silicon Valley,” his personal legal professionals acknowledged in courtroom paperwork filed final week.
The legal professionals argued Levandowski deserved some leniency as a result of there was by no means any proof that he used Google’s commerce secrets and techniques whereas overseeing Uber’s self-driving automotive division.
He misplaced that job in 2017 whereas asserting his Fifth Amendment proper in opposition to self-incrimination when Uber was nonetheless defending itself in opposition to Waymo’s lawsuit.
Uber settled its case with Waymo for $245 million a number of days right into a trial that featured its former CEO, Travis Kalanick, talking about a few of his discussions with Levandowski concerning the ride-hailing service’s need to win the race to construct self-driving vehicles.
Levandowski, 40, confronted a most jail sentence of 10 years and a $2,50,000 high-quality.
Besides sentencing Levandowski to 18 months in jail, Alsup fined him $95,000 and ordered him to pay Waymo $7,56,499 to reimburse the corporate for the prices it incurred in serving to the federal government with its investigation.
It seems unsure whether or not Levandowski will have the ability to make the funds. He filed for chapter earlier this 12 months after one other courtroom upheld an arbitration ruling requiring him to pay Google $179 million, most of which consisted of a bonus he obtained for his work on self-driving vehicles.
In its sufferer assertion, Waymo advised Alsup that Levandowski’s “misconduct was enormously disruptive and harmful to Waymo, constituted a betrayal, and the financial effects would likely have been even more severe had it gone undetected.”
In paperwork arguing why Levandowski deserved jail time, US Attorney David Anderson referred to as his theft a “brazen and shocking” act that appeared pushed by ego as a lot as greed.
“Levandowski’s actions suggest he wanted to be seen as the singular inventor of the self-driving car, the way Alexander Graham Bell is credited with inventing the telephone,” Anderson wrote. AP