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Google’s Former Star Self-Driving Executive: Charged

Over two (2) years ago (May 2017) I asked the question in a blog post titled, “Is There a Different IP Protection Policy for Star Employees?”.


I asked this question based on the allegations that the former head of Google’s self-driving program (SCOTT LEVANDOWSKI) had just walked away with Google’s trade secrets and went over to Uber.

At the time, I was baffled that LEVANDOWSKI had not been criminally charged and that Google was pursuing it through a “civil” legal process.

Google and Uber settled on the “civil” side in 2018, the criminal issue–in regards to LEVANDOWSKI’s alleged trade secrets theft–had not been resolved.


So, I couldn’t help asking the question: “Are star-employees special?”

In other words, is anybody keeping track of the IP the star-employee is keeping track of (and prepared to hold him accountable) if he allegedly slips away with some?

Well, Google’s resounding answer to that (as of today) is: Yes, absolutely.


The U.S. Department of Justice and FBI started to investigate the allegations (the same month I wrote the May 2017 post) and today charged LEVANDOWSKI with 33 counts of trade secrets theft.

9 – Page Indictment


A related protection reminder is the critical issue of IP owners submitting star-employees to the same vigorous exit interview / debriefing process any employee is expected to submit to. No exceptions.


Nobody is that special when it comes protecting trade secrets.

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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

1 comment on “Google’s Former Star Self-Driving Executive: Charged

  1. Tom Manley

    Good Job Ron
    Yes the Moral of the story is important.
    No One is Special
    No One is above the law
    I hope and wish that New, Politics and Law Enforcement aspire for Integrity
    Thank You
    Tom Manley

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