back to article Google is still chasing the self-driving engineer that jumped ship to Uber

If you thought the monster battle between Google and Uber over alleged theft of its self-driving technology was over, you'd be wrong. The two companies were involved in an extraordinary legal battle earlier this year that revealed a series of shady goings-on at Uber, including a special unit whose job it was to steal …

  1. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Stop

    Of course...

    "Google may have let Uber off the hook for possibly conspiring with its former engineers to steal its trade secrets but it sure as hell is not going to let its former staff off the hook."

    Which is pretty much as expected - it's a lot easier to hound an individual into bankruptcy (or capitulation due to imminent bankruptcy) than it is another company.

    What I would be interested in finding out is how much Google's search results for "Anthony Levandowski" have changed since (say) a month before this whole thing kicked off to how they appear now. After all, there have been previous reports of search results manipulation, and I for one would not put it past them to start serving up the worst dirt possible on the guy.

    1. dave 81

      Re: Of course...

      It is the land of the free after all. /s

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Of course...

        It is the land of the free after all

        Are we talking about Netherlands? :~

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Of course...

      All of this and other reports from inside Google on the treatment of employees makes one wonder why anyone would want to work for them.

      In this case, I don't agree nor condone what he did but there are some things they've pulled on employees that make we wonder if they're not a toxic work environment.

    3. Just Enough

      Re: Of course...

      "What I would be interested in finding out is how much Google's search results for "Anthony Levandowski" have changed since (say) a month before this whole thing kicked off to how they appear now. "

      Well totally different, of course. Before he was relatively nobody, and now he's getting news articles written about him. But let's not that stand in the way of a good conspiracy theory, shall we?

  2. Spazturtle Silver badge

    What utter hypocrites Google are.

    The whole reason why your hire experienced people is for their knowledge and experience on a subject. If I learn how to terminate cat5e at one job am I banned from ever using that knowledge at future jobs? Of course not, Google are just trying to bully this person with legal fees. Google poach people from other companies all the time because they want that persons knowledge and experience.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: What utter hypocrites Google are.

      It isn't as simple as that though is it?

      If you nicked a proprietary termination tool from one employer and took it to another you'd be in bother. This guy hasn't taken his experience but that of lots of other people too. And has been caught at it.

      I can't believe I find myself arguing for the the dark side, I need to go and shower. I feel dirty.

      1. Oflife

        Re: What utter hypocrites Google are.

        Exactly. And I feel dirty ageeing with you too.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Spazturtle

      False comparison. This isn't like a restaurant banning former staff from ever cooking again. More like McDonalds stopping ex employees from calling their food Mcburgers of some kind (Which i'm sure even you'll agree is fair).

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: Spazturtle

        But he isn't calling his burger a McBurger to use your comparison, he is using his knowledge of how McDonald's make their burgers taste good to make good tasting burgers at his new job.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Spazturtle

          "how McDonald's make their burgers taste good"

          They taste good?

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: Spazturtle

            "They taste good?"

            The burgers themselves taste of nothing whatsoever

            Try a bite of just the burger next time you are in an MDs and.see for yourself. The flavour is all from the sauce / bun / salad / gurkins etc

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Spazturtle

          > But he isn't calling his burger a McBurger to use your comparison, he is using his knowledge of how McDonald's make their burgers taste good to make good tasting burgers at his new job.

          Having walked off with copies of all their recipes and designs for any proprietary cooking kit they've developed.

          If I go to a new job and use my experience, that's fine. If I turn up with a copy of the ticketing system, the revision control system and future design plans from my old company, that's not fine.

          They're not hounding a guy that's simply using his experience, they're chasing a guy that downloaded drives worth of their internal documents and then, effectively, tried to flog them onto a competitor (throwing himself into the bargain). Had he worked for someone else and tried to gain the same information, the phrase that would have been used is Industrial Espionage.

          1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Spazturtle

            "Had he worked for someone else and tried to gain the same information, the phrase that would have been used is Industrial Espionage"

            Or Treason, if you do it to a Government...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Spazturtle

            "They're not hounding a guy that's simply using his experience, they're chasing a guy that downloaded drives worth of their internal documents and then, effectively, tried to flog them onto a competitor (throwing himself into the bargain)"

            The flogging belongs in the other article about him.

            giggity.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Spazturtle

            "They're not hounding a guy that's simply using his experience, they're chasing a guy that downloaded drives worth of their internal documents and then, effectively, tried to flog them onto a competitor (throwing himself into the bargain)."

            It must be an interesting experience for anyone in that sort of position of responsibility who happens to have an eidetic memory.

        3. Tigra 07 Silver badge

          Re: Spazturtle

          He's (allegedly) stolen proprietery data owned by Google to sell to a competitor for profit.

          No one in the right mind would risk hiring someone who sees nothing wrong with stealing. Trust is an actual thing

          1. kain preacher Silver badge

            Re: Spazturtle

            Tigra 07 unless you had a division dedicated to corporate espionage.

          2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Re: No one in the right mind would risk hiring someone who sees nothing wrong with stealing.

            Yeah but : Uber.

            He fits right in.

          3. Goldmember

            Re: Spazturtle

            "No one in the right mind would risk hiring someone who sees nothing wrong with stealing. Trust is an actual thing"

            You've heard of Uber before, right?

          4. Jim Birch

            Re: Spazturtle

            "No one in the right mind would risk hiring someone who sees nothing wrong with stealing."

            No, you do a risk/benefit analysis. If you really want want they know or can do then the choice could be easy. To return to fanciful burger analogies, McDonalds won't hire someone who was sacked by Burger King for stealing drink cups since there is risk with no upside, but they might hire someone who waltzed out of a previous job with a pile of trade secrets that reduces production costs by 10 cents every burger. That's worth billions, you take risks.

          5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Spazturtle

            "No one in the right mind would risk hiring someone who sees nothing wrong with stealing."

            Uber did the hiring, wait...what?

            "Trust is an actual thing"

            We're still taking about Uber.

      2. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Spazturtle

        Good point, just like the famous case of McDowell's that opened up in Queens, New York back in the 80s.

        'I'll have a Big Mick and fries please'

        1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

          Re: Spazturtle

          "Good point, just like the famous case of McDowell's that opened up in Queens, New York back in the 80s."

          Was that real, or just in "Coming to America"??

        2. r0rschach

          Re: Spazturtle

          Totally different! They had Randy Watson as their spokesman

          ;-)

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: What utter hypocrites Google are.

      There is no company on the planet with any kind of semi-competent or even mostly incompetent mismanagement that would not come after one who stole company documents and gave them to a competitor. I am somewhat surprised there has not been criminal charges, but I do not know California law on that point. The theft of documents is very different from one's experience. Experience is learning and application of knowledge to problems. Someone with experience will have more tools to understand and solve a problem without using an ex-employer's internal documents.

  3. Ishtiaq

    The shithead must be laughing

    @RyokuMas

    I have done what you suggested. This was the second link Google displayed.

    I will not make any comment incase the shithead A.L. sues me. I feel I should sue him for making me feel sympathy for Uber...

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/02/anthony-levandowski-is-back-with-a-new-self-driving-startup-called-kache-ai/?guccounter=1

    Cheers… Ishy

  4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    I wouldn't exactly call $245 million "off the hook".

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      "I wouldn't exactly call $245 million "off the hook"."

      Indeed. And while people are often tempted to write off even such large sums as small change when big companies are involved, it's worth bearing in mind that Uber has consistently made massive losses for it's whole existence - it lost $4.5 billion last year. An extra couple of hundred million might not be enough to push them over the edge, but it's certainly enough to be a very noticeable hit.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        RE: Cuddles

        That's a fascinatingly high loss considering Uber keep going to court and claiming they have no employees.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        $245 mill settlement

        Uber won't be forking over $245 million. Their insurance policy will be shelling that out (less deductible and any non-reimbursable out of pocket costs). Sure their rates will likely tick up next year, but in the grand scheme of things, it's noise.

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      I would because they are paying in stock.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Paying in stock, well, Google accepting stock makes sense because it gives them ownership over any advances and therefore future profits the stolen information may provide. If it gives no advantage Google lost nothing, if it gives an advantage then Google also profits.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          "Google accepting stock makes sense because it gives them ownership over any advances and therefore future profits the stolen information may provide."

          Whether or not this is true depends on what type of stock Google is getting. If it's common stock, then this isn't as applicable.

  5. DJV Silver badge

    Google will spend years making sure you pay for it

    We all pay for it with our slurped data!

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    I find this strange.

    How can a company attempt to indemnify someone against committing an illegal act?

    "It's ok colleague, you kill Big Joe but tell the coppers that you were acting on our behalf and we'll take the rap for you." Isn't the employee committing the crime and Uber, at absolute minimum, aiding and abetting a crime?

    Or is aiding and abetting not a crime in US law?

    1. Jon 37

      Re: I find this strange.

      It's not a criminal case, it's a civil case.

      If it was a criminal case, the the state or feds could throw him in jail, and there's nothing Uber could do to prevent that.

      But Google are suing in a civil lawsuit, so Uber have presumably promised to pay his lawyer's fees and if he has to pay compensation to Google then Uber will presumably give him the money to give to Google.

      If Uber asked him to do something wrong, then Google could sue Uber too, and get money from Uber... And in fact Google did sue Uber claiming that, and Uber have already paid Google some money (actually a lot of shares) to settle that claim.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't work for google.

    They will have you working for the Chinese government (filtered data as approved), they will not allow you to complain about "being evil", you don't get to keep any skills you developed. But don't worry, they are making a brain washing (memory remover) machine, so they can format you when you leave. No trade secrets in that empty head lol. CIA to borrow this tool on weekends.

  8. IceC0ld Bronze badge

    Further to the - what can you take away from your last job :oP

    http://dilbert.com/strip/2002-05-26

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't work for google.

    How can anyone not get:

    "Don't work for google. They will have you working for the Chinese government...."

    ?

    Because they already are working for Google?

    Because they don't want to be confronted with how the world actually is?

    Or because they're actually an AI in that big silo?

    FFS

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