Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who helped pioneer self-driving cars before joining Uber filed for bankruptcy protection. This is because a court ruling mandates that he pays $179 million to Google over a contract dispute.
In his bankruptcy claim, Levandowski mentions that he has less than $100 million in personal assets. However, Levandowski might still not have to pay as his agreement with Uber secures against legal abilities for their actions.
“While Uber and Levandowski are parties to an indemnification agreement, whether Uber is ultimately responsible for such indemnification is subject to a dispute between the company and Levandowski,” an Uber securities filing said. This leaves the question of who must pay Google open as this sort of agreement put all the liabilities on the employer.
The accusation against Levandowski is that of stealing 14,000 documents from Google containing proprietary information about its self-driving program. Google charged Levandowski with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of Google trade secrets.
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Levandowski was in violation of his contract with Google
An arbitration panel had ruled in December 2019 that Levandowski and a colleague, Lior Ron, had engaged in deceptive and unfair practices.
The ruling says they engaged in secretly poaching away their Google colleagues to join the start-up which Levandowski founded after leaving Google. Thus violating his legal obligations to Google as per his contract.
His company was later acquired by Uber, who started a self-driving project of their own.
Waymo, the self-driving car company that was birthed by Google, said in a statement:
“We will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure our confidential information is protected as we build the world’s most experienced driver.”
Uber, Levandowski, and Waymo had settled an earlier dispute with Uber handing over about $245 million in stock to Waymo.
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