The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday filed criminal charges against Anthony Levandowski, accusing the former Alphabet engineer of stealing the company’s self-driving car technology before joining rival Uber Technologies Inc.
Levandowski left Alphabet’s Waymo unit in early 2016 and later he took over Uber’s self-driving car project. However, he was demoted, and eventually fired, under pressure from the litigation.
A legal battle over Levandowski has cost Uber precious time in its self-driving car project, which is important to its long-term profitability.
The 33 criminal charges against Levandowski largely mirror allegations that Waymo made in a civil lawsuit filed against Uber in 2017. Uber settled that case last year.
Before leaving Waymo, Levandowski downloaded thousands of files in 2015 related to Alphabet’s self-driving car technology.
Levandowski voluntarily surrendered to authorities and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if he’s convicted.
Since leaving Uber, Levandowski has started another self-driving software company.
Uber said in a statement Tuesday that it has cooperated with the government’s investigation “and will continue to do so.”
Waymo said, “We have always believed competition should be fueled by innovation, and we appreciate the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI on this case.”