Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

Violet Tucker
May 16, 2017

Although Levandowski has said that he will not undertake any work relating to the disputed technology LiDAR, which revolves around sensors, an Uber engineer recently testified that Levandowski communicates with the company's self-driving boss on a daily basis.

"In his ruling, which was unsealed on Monday, Judge William Alsup of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, said Waymo has "shown compelling evidence" that its former star engineer, Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files" before leaving Alphabet's self-driving vehicle unit. "We welcome the order to prohibit Uber's use of stolen documents containing trade secrets developed by Waymo through years of research, and to formally bar Mr. Levandowski from working on the technology", a Waymo spokesperson told CNBC.

"Waymo has also sufficiently shown. that the 14,000-plus purloined files likely contain at least some trade secrets".

Judge William Alsup slams Uber's "relentless concealment of likely probative evidence", notes that some of its claims "strain credulity" and complains that its carefully manufactured denials that the stolen files were used by Uber "leave open the danger of all manner of mischief". A lawsuit claims that Uber is using technology stolen from the self-driving cars company.

Waymo, the Google self-driving auto project, had asked Alsup to go as far as shut down Uber's autonomous tech program as the case moves along.

"Competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads, not through unlawful actions", a Waymo spokesperson said. And yes, it could well allow Waymo to keep an eye on the progress Uber is making with its self-driving vehicle development program.

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Uber must return the documents either to Waymo or the court by the end of this month.

In Waymo, Lyft has latched onto the leading firm in self-driving technology - Google was first out of the gate in this area, and appears far ahead (paywall) of any other company in the race to produce systems ready for the market.

The court order also grants Waymo seven more depositions, and the ability to inspect its competitor Uber's ongoing LiDAR work, including designs and code. The judge slams its "gamesmanship" in the case and notes that very few of the claimed 121 trade secrets can be realistically defined as such, writing that it has repeatedly "overreached" in its claims.

Alsup last week referred the case to the Justice Department "for investigation of possible theft of trade secrets". In an email, a Lyft spokeswoman said, "We can confirm that we are partnering with Waymo to safely and responsibly launch self-driving vehicle pilots".

At stake for Uber is nothing less than the company's own future, with Uber execs staking huge bets and investments on self-driving cars being the next big technological breakthrough for the company and automotive industry. What's more, Waymo could also keep hunting for any other potential clues that could help it reopen the case and get an injunction against Uber.

Waymo, a company under Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG,GOOGL), and Lyft are teaming up on self-driving cars. Uber is now not in a favorable position as far as its ongoing legal confrontation with Waymo is concerned.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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