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Anthony Levandowski, Otto co-founder and VP of Engineering at Uber. Photo: ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images

Though Waymo settled its lawsuit against Uber over alleged trade secret theft in February, federal prosecutors are still considering possible criminal charges against the engineer at the center of it all, Anthony Levandowski, according to a New Yorker feature.

Why it matters: Waymo and Uber's year-long legal scuffle over self-driving car tech was one of the most high-profile — and drama-laden — battles in Silicon Valley. It exposed the fierce competition between companies over technology that can have massive implications and revenues.

The New Yorker details how in 2011, Levandowski insisted on proving a colleague wrong by taking a ride in a self-driving car, ending in the latter injuring "his spine so severely that he eventually required multiple surgeries."

  • Levandowski's car boxed in a Camry on the freeway, which ended with the Camry spinning across and hitting the median. Levandowski swerved, injuring his colleague in the process. They never went back to check on the other car or spoke to authorities.
  • "If it is your job to advance technology, safety cannot be your No. 1 concern," he told the New Yorker. "If it is, you’ll never do anything. It’s always safer to leave the car in the driveway. You’ll never learn from a real mistake."

Also notable is that Waymo sued based on a relatively new federal trade secret law, passed in 2016 — just one year prior to the lawsuit.

  • The Defend Trade Secrets Act, "which allowed companies to sue in federal civil court over trade-secret misappropriation, and to block employees accused of taking trade secrets from working at competing firms," according to the New Yorker.
  • More than 1,100 lawsuits were filed last year, most of them by large companies against employees who went to work for other American companies. More of them have been filed in California than in any other state.

Go deeper

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters rallied outside fortified statehouses over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

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