180 million fine were not enough. Former Googler Anthony Levandowski had previously been ordered to pay a large sum of money to Waymo for selling important self-driving car secrets to Uber. He has just had his sentence completed with 18 months in prison. This self-driving car specialist had pleaded guilty to all 33 charges against him. This saves him the maximum penalty of 10 years per count, or up to 330 theoretical years in prison!
“Today marks the end of three and a half years and the start of another long road ahead. The past three years have given me an understanding of what I have been doing. I would like to apologize to my colleagues at Google for betraying their trust and to my family for the price they have to pay through me “ Levandowski said at the end of the judgment.
Three and a half years of trial
This is the epilogue of a case that will have lasted almost four years. Indeed, in 2016, the ex-Google engineer, one of the most successful of the pioneering team on the autonomous car, decided to leave Mountain View to found his own company of autonomous trucks, Otto. In passing, he takes with him a few qualified employees but also confidential information. When a few months later, Otto was sold for $ 680 million to Uber, the auto division of Google, which had become Alphabet’s Waymo subsidiary, suspected a scam. She accuses Levandowski of leaving with 14,000 secret files and of having greatly contributed to Uber’s progress in autonomous driving.
However, the ex-engineer will have to wait to serve his sentence, which will be suspended as long as the Covid-19 pandemic is active in the United States. Waymo only congratulated himself on the court ruling in a brief statement: “This is a victory for business secrecy and an encouragement for those working to develop disruptive technologies”.