Posts Tagged: "Anthony Levandowski"

Pardon Me? Levandowski Case Highlights Need for Proactive Approach to Avoid Trade Secret Problems in Hiring

My head was turned by the recent news of President Trump’s final-day pardon of Anthony Levandowski, the former head of Google’s self-driving car unit who was recruited into Uber with full knowledge that he had downloaded 14,000 confidential files on his way out, and who was later convicted of trade secret theft. I was struck by the White House statement of justification. It said that Levandowski – who hadn’t yet served a day of his 18-month sentence – “has paid a significant price for his actions.” I have no doubt that Levandowski has “paid a significant price” for his misdeeds, but it caused me to think about the price paid by others who were involved in this fiasco of a hiring, most specifically Uber. Salacious stories like this one serve as a reminder of all the things that can go wrong when we hire someone from the competition. Especially when we stop thinking about risk and see only upside. So, let’s talk about that risk and what you can do to keep yourself out of trouble – and never, ever need a presidential pardon.

Don’t Focus on the Fight: When it Comes to Trade Secrets, it’s the Transaction that Counts

Tuning in to the recent sentencing of Anthony Levandowski for criminal trade secret theft, I was reminded of the wise observation about relationships, that remembering the ending is a way to forget about the beginning. But while that way of thinking can be a salve for the heart, it’s not so helpful when it comes to the kind of critical self-analysis that we need to improve our behavior, or at least certain outcomes, in business. It’s natural for us to be attracted to the drama of trade secret litigation. These cases typically involve claimed treachery of some kind, contrasted against an alternate narrative of entrepreneurship and helpful market disruption. Indeed, as I have often remarked to my students, trade secret cases are a trial lawyer’s dream, because you are dealing with the kind of emotional issues that can draw in a jury and make it easy to keep attention focused on the story you’re trying to tell.

Separating Fact from Fiction in United States v. Levandowski

In August, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Northern District of California charged a pioneer of self-driving car technology, Anthony Levandowski, with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Google under 18 U.S.C. § 1832 of the Economic Espionage Act (EEA). According to the indictment, Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 files containing critical information about Google’s autonomous-vehicle research before leaving the company in 2016. The indictment alleged that Levandowski then made an unauthorized transfer of the files to his personal laptop. Some of the files that Levandowski allegedly took from Google included private schematics for proprietary circuit boards and designs for light sensor technology, known as Lidar, which are used in self-driving cars. Levandowski joined Uber in 2016 after leaving Google when Uber bought his new self-driving trucking start-up, “Otto.” Levandowski has repeatedly asserted that he never disclosed the download, nor made use of the information while he was at Uber.

Other Barks & Bites, Friday August 30: CAFC Dismisses Appeals of PTAB Institution Denials, Levandowski Indicted on Trade Secrets Theft

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the PTAB institutes IPRs despite arguments that the Chinese government was an unnamed real party-in-interest; the Federal Circuit dismisses appeals of PTAB decisions denying institution on three IPRs; USPTO seeks public comments on examination guidance for artificial intelligence inventions, announces a public hearing on proposed trademark fee adjustments, and is facing backlash for seeking proof of citizenship for trademark applications; Tesla avoids a 10% tax on auto sales in China; the Department of Defense gets closer to establishing an IP protection team; former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski is charged with trade secret theft; trademark protection cases in Dubai have risen 63%; the Copyright Royalty Board announces an intent to audit Sirius XM Radio; and Amazon’s Audible faces copyright infringement suit over text captioning feature.

Intellectual Property Plays a Big Role in Silicon Valley Deals

How big of a role does IP play in Silicon Valley deals? “In almost any size transaction involving a technology company, our client asks us to look carefully at the company’s IP and the agreements the company has entered into with third parties to secure rights in IP and to permit others to use that IP,” said John Brockland, a technology and IP transactions partner at Hogan Lovells. “Depending on how a transaction is structured, the terms on which IP is assigned or licensed between the parties in a deal can also be a critical area of focus for our client.”

Some Lessons From the Waymo (Alphabet) Versus Uber Theft of Trade Secret Litigation

Although the amount of the settlement was far less than $2.7 billion in amount sought by Waymo, the settlement apparently did include a payment from Uber of 0.34% of Uber equity—or about $244.8 million in stock based on a $72 billion valuation of Uber… Both sides had a lot riding on the outcome of the trial. In addition to the billions in damages, Waymo was seeking an injunction to prevent Uber from using any technology that may have originated from Waymo, which would have been a huge set back for Uber’s program. Indeed, during his first day of being questioned, the former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, agreed that developing autonomous vehicles amounts to an “existential question” for Uber, and that the market for driverless cars is likely to be “winner-take-all.”

Uber settles trade secret case with Waymo for $245 million

Earlier today Alphabet subsidiary Waymo settled with Uber in the midst of a trade secret infringement trial. This lawsuit originated when Waymo brought suit against Uber in 2017, alleging that a former Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski, who was hired by Uber to lead Uber’s self-driving car project, took with him thousands of confidential documents… The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a separate, criminal investigation into the alleged theft of trade secrets. Levandowski has claimed a Fifth Amendment privilege and has not spoken about the events leading to this dispute.

The Most Dangerous Hire: Lessons from Waymo v. Uber

Every trade secret case is built around a story. Sure, the plaintiff’s story is different than the defendant’s, even though each draws on the same facts. For the rest of us that don’t have a dog in the fight, helpful lessons are available. But sometimes you have to look hard to find them. Here’s one. When Waymo, the Google self-driving car company, filed its lawsuit against Uber earlier this year, the story was remarkable enough… This case is instructive for any business considering hiring an executive from a competitor: be aware that the cost of this recruitment might include the legal fees, disruption and liability risk of a trade secret claim.

CAFC says Equitable Estoppel Cannot Compel Arbitration in Waymo v. Uber

Uber Technologies, Inc. and Ottomotto LLC (“Uber”), appealed the district court’s order, denying Uber’s motion to compel arbitration of pending litigation with Waymo, LLC (“Waymo”). Levandowski, a former employee of Waymo, was an Intervenor in this case. Uber sought to compel arbitration on the basis of Waymo’s arbitration agreement with Levandowski, not because of any arbitration agreement with Waymo.

Intervenor Not Entitled to Mandamus Relief on Discovery Dispute in Waymo v. Uber

Waymo, a Google spin-off, sued Uber and Ottomotto for patent infringement and violations of federal and state trade secret laws. Waymo alleged that its former employee, Mr. Levandowski, improperly downloaded documents on Waymo’s driverless vehicle technology prior to leaving the company and founding Ottomotto, which was subsequently acquired by Uber… During discovery, the Magistrate Judge granted Waymo’s Motion to Compel production of the Stroz Report. Waymo subpoenaed Stroz to produce the report and accompanying communications, documents, and devices. After a Motion to Quash was denied, Levandowski, Ottomotto, and Uber filed Motions for Relief from the Magistrate’s orders. The District Court denied the Motions. Acting alone, Mr. Levandowski appealed the district court’s denial of relief. Because the orders were not appealable final judgments, Mr. Levandowski presented his appeal as a writ of mandamus. The Court denied the writ, dismissed the appeal on jurisdictional grounds, and ordered production of the Report.