The rivalry between Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and Uber has intensified as Google’s parent sued Uber on grounds of patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation in February. Anthony Levandowski, a former employee of Google, has allegedly stolen 14,000 files worth of trade secrets to create his own self-driving truck company, Otto, acquired by Uber last year. Bloomberg Technology claims that the design and construction of the laser-scanning system to guide the autonomous cars took Waymo about seven years to build, while Uber supposedly accomplished the task in a mere nine months.
According to the suit, Mr. Levandowski allegedly registered the company Otto mid-January of last year and left Alphabet twelve days later, but not before downloading 9.7 gigabytes worth of classified information from Waymo’s design server. The suit further claims that he took the time to meticulously conceal his activities by attaching “an external hard drive to his laptop for eight hours, before erasing the history of his computer,” and never using it again. A few months after Mr. Levandowski left Alphabet and received his last compensation check, Otto was bought for $680 million in stock by Uber.
The article reveals that Anthony Levandowski is not the only former employee accused of stealing confidential data from Waymo’s self-driving car project, which has led to approximately $500 million for Otto employees. Waymo explains that Uber unfairly used this stolen information as a shortcut to create a strikingly similar laser sensor system to their own. When confronted with this complaint, Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler claimed, “We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully.” Despite this statement, Mr. Levandowski has been unavailable to comment.
Danielle is a finance and ITM major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.