Ex-Uber engineer pleads guilty to Google trade secrets theft

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Anthony Levandowski, the former engineer of both Uber and Google at the center of the tech giants’ recent legal feud over trade secrets theft, agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors on Thursday at a federal court in San Francisco.

He pleaded guilty to one count of stealing trade secrets while working at Google and could now face 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.

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.

Levandowski’s plea “brings to an end a seminal case for our company and the self-driving industry, and underscores the value of Waymo’s intellectual property,” the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

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