Departing Employees Steal Data
Employers beware of trade secret theft! The pandemic forced many employers to require their employees to work from home without appropriate cybersecurity measures required to secure sensitive data. The increased vulnerability of company trade secrets has made it extremely difficult to navigate through an employee’s departure from an organization. Enigma Forensics has over 20 years of experience helping organizations navigate through the separation of employers, partners, and employees. Even the most technically savvy employers in the technology sector have issues with trade secret theft. Check out this example!
August 2020, Former Google exec Anthony Levandowski sentenced to 18 months for stealing self-driving car trade secrets
The technology giant Google recently sued their departed superstar engineer Anthony Levandowski. Levandowski helped develop the fast-growing world of self-driving cars and was the primary executive who helped Google to grow in the self-driving car industry. For reasons we can only speculate about, he departed Google to start his own self-driving truck company called Otto.
Levandowski sold Otto to Uber in 2016
Lewandowski’s new company, Otto become the first-ever self-driving trucking company. In 2016, he entered a deal with Uber to sell Otto and joined Uber as a high-ranking executive in its self-driving division. Google’s new self-driving unit called Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber for trade secret theft. Waymo alleged that through Uber’s purchase of Otto they gained access to Google’s sensitive technology that Levandowski allegedly illegally took on his way out Google’s door.
Levandowski settled with Waymo (Google) in a trade secret theft case
During the trial, Levandowski refused to hand over documents and as a result, became in trouble with the US Attorney’s Office. He eventually reached a deal and was ordered to pay $747,000 in restitution to Google and a fine of $97,000. Levandowski had to declare bankruptcy after another separate court ruling that found him guilty of poaching Waymo engineers. Following the aftermath of the trade secret case against Uber and Levandowski, in September 2020, Levandowski filed another lawsuit. He alleged that the Waymo case negatively affected the Otto deal with Uber, and as a result, didn’t receive the financial rewards that were promised to him. Karma always seems to creep into these scenarios.
The Same Story Over and Over Again
All too often we see the same story played out no matter what the industry, company, or corporation. For top earners, there are only a few options for them to make a change. These are two options that we typically see in trade secret cases.
The first option is to out on their own as an entrepreneur or the second option is to go work for the competition. Once a top earner joins the competition, it’s often only a matter of time before they call on trusted former colleagues to join them. The next step in pursuing employees that departed for a competitor is often hiring a computer forensics expert skilled in trade secret misappropriation investigations. An expert is an unbiased third party that will track down the data that was illegally taken, document his/her findings in an affidavit, and assist with fact discovery. Ultimately, confronting the former employee with clear facts that demonstrate the trade secret misappropriation may lead to an agreed settlement. Often times, litigation continues and leads to a trial with the evidence at issue presented in a court of law. Having an experienced expert on your side can make the difference in the overall outcome.
Enigma Forensics has assisted in many trade secret cases. Hire an Expert (HAE) and Win Your Trade Secret Case! Call Enigma Forensics at 312-668-0333 to investigate.