Former Google self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski has been charged by Federal prosecutors with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets.
Anthony Levandowski was a Google employee for nearly a decade before going to work for ride-hailing app Uber.
The Guardian reports the criminal indictment is the latest development in a years-long dispute over intellectual property between Google and Uber, which purchased a self-driving startup from Levandowski for a reported $680m in August 2016.
Levandowski reportedly downloaded approximately 14,000 files from Google and transferred them to his personal laptop in the months preceding his departure from Google. This came after he had begun discussions with executives at Uber.
According to The Guardian the files included “critical engineering information” about hardware for self-driving cars and “schematics for the printed circuit boards used in various custom Lidar products”.
Levandowski joined Google in 2007 and began working on Street View before joining the company’s “moonshot” project that taught a car to drive itself.
The Guardian said Levandowski’s attorneys, Miles Ehrlich and Ismail Ramsey, proclaimed their his innocence in a statement.
“This case rehashes claims already discredited in a civil case that settled more than a year and a half ago,” they said. “The downloads at issue occurred while Anthony was still working at Google – when he and his team were authorised to use the information. None of these supposedly secret files ever went to Uber or to any other company … Anthony is innocent, and we look forward to proving it at trial.”