The responsible judge spoke of the “greatest crime with trade secrets that I have ever seen” – but a software engineer is now free.
NDonald Trump pardoned dozens of other people before leaving the White House. Anthony Levandowski, who was the central figure in a spectacular legal dispute over industrial espionage between the Alphabet Holding over the Internet company Google and the driving service Uber, also appeared surprisingly on the list. Equally remarkable about the pardon was that, according to a message, it was supported by Peter Thiel, among others.
The German-born investor and entrepreneur has openly supported Trump in recent years as one of the few representatives of the American technology industry. There have recently been indications that he has distanced himself, but the pardon suggests that he was heard by Trump until the very end.
Levandowski was once a star engineer at Google, working on autonomous driving technologies that later became part of the separate subsidiary Waymo. In 2016 he left the group and started his own company, which was soon bought by Uber.
In 2017, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber alleging that Levandowski stole confidential information before he left. Uber ended the lawsuit with a settlement.
Levandowski himself confessed last year and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The judge in charge spoke of the “greatest trade secret crime I have ever seen”.