He was once a pioneer in self-driving car technology but Tuesday (August 28) Anthony Levandowski was in court facing criminal charges for allegedly stealing trade secrets his former employer Alphabet before joining Uber.
FBI special agent John Bennett announced the charges.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, JOHN F.
BENNETT, SAYING: "In this case we have the allegation of an insider stealing information from a company's servers and that includes the development of self-driving vehicles and all of the underlying research, planning technology that goes into it.
This makes for a very tasty theft." The district attorney declined to say whether Uber would also eventually face criminal charges.
The 33-count indictment largely mirrors allegations made by Alphabet's Waymo unit, where Levandowski had worked, in a civil lawsuit against Uber in 2017, which was settled out of court.
Reuters correspondent Alexandria Sage: (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, ALEXANDRIA SAGE, SAYING: "This indictment comes more than two years after Waymo Google's self-driving unit first alleged that Anthony Levandowski had downloaded sensitive documents more than 14000 documents pertaining to its proprietary self-driving car system.//The case riveted Silicon Valley and underscored the fierce competition between technology companies in the race to bring self-driving cars to the market.
The district attorney repeated that this was an ongoing investigation which means that we could of course see new charges to other parties down the line." Levandowski's lawyer Miles Ehrlich said he was innocent.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) ANTHONY LEVANDOWSKI'S LAWYER, MILES EHRLICH, SAYING: "Not a single one of these supposedly secret files.
Ever went to Uber or to any other company or person.//The government has it dead wrong.
And we're confident that the proof and the evidence at trial will prove him innocence." After leaving Waymo, Levandowski founded self-driving truck company Otto which Uber later bought.
The alleged stolen materials included details related to Lidar, a crucial sensor technology, according to the indictment.
Legal battles involving Levandowski have cost Uber precious time on its self-driving car project, which could be important to its long-term profitability.