Ex-Uber engineer sentenced to 18 months for Google trade secrets theft

Anthony Levandowski, the former engineer of both Uber and Google at the center of the tech giants’ recent legal feud over trade secrets theft, on Tuesday at a federal court in San Francisco was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Levandowski plead guilty in March to a count of stealing trade secrets while working at Google, for which he was facing up to 30 months in prison.

He was originally charged last August with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft, each of which carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Levandowski was accused of stealing trade secrets from Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo, and transferring them to Uber after he joined the ride-hailing company in 2016 following its acquisition of the self-driving truck startup Otto, which he founded. Uber fired him in 2017 after it was sued by Waymo over the allegations of the stolen tech. Uber and Waymo eventually settled in 2018.

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Levandowski’s original indictment alleged he stole more than 14,000 files relating to Waymo’s self-driving car research and technology, including schematics for circuit boards and lidar sensors. In his plea deal, the one count that Levandowski admitted to concerns a spreadsheet that contained information about the progress of Waymo’s self-driving car development.

As part of his plea deal, Levandowski agreed to pay over $750,000 in restitution to Google, as well as a fine of $95,000. However, he also needed to declare bankruptcy after courts upheld an arbitration ruling that he owed Google an additional $179 million for breach of contract.

But the story doesn’t end there. According to TechCrunch, Levandowski has also filed a lawsuit alleging Uber owes him money as part of an agreement to acquire Otto that was never paid, because the trade secret dispute between Uber and Waymo effectively scuttled the deal and thus the payment to Levandowski. He’s reportedly seeking over $4 billion in the suit.

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