Google has filed suit against its former self-driving car project chief, accusing him of secretly building his own self-driving car company while the company paid him $120 million in incentives.
An “autonomous vehicle” expert, Anthony Levandowski is alleged to have been building Otto, a self-driving startup, on the side while working on Waymo, the driverless car company owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Google claims Levandowski didn’t disclose he was building Otto until it was purchased in August 2016 by Uber for a reported $680 million.
Waymo and Alphabet filed suit against Levandowski and Uber in February, asserting Levandowski stole 14,000 files of classified information while working for Google, including the blueprint of a critical component for self-driving capability — the LiDAR sensor, which allows a vehicle to map its surrounding environment.
Waymo learned of Levandowski’s secret when it received an email from one of its suppliers that specializes in LiDAR. The email was sent erroneously and included attachments of machine drawings crediting Uber for the designs that were almost identical to Waymo’s “unique LiDAR design.”
Waymo announced its lawsuit in a blog post, writing, “Misappropriating this technology is akin to stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company.”
The official complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco and states:
“Fair competition spurs new technical innovation, but what has happened here is not fair competition. Instead, Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time, and expense of independently developing their own technology.”
Levandowski is being sued alongside another once-classified employee. He has reportedly refused to testify at a recent court proceeding. Waymo is also claiming that Uber has not produced all documents requested via a court order.
H/T: The Daily Caller
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