Uber fires back at Google spinoff in self-driving car case

08 April, 2017, 07:21 | Author: Archie Newman
  • Google Accuses Exec Of Stealing

Waymo has argued that Uber is stonewalling on its obligation to turn over files and documents that the Alphabet unit says were stolen by Levandowski when he left Waymo past year and launched his self-driving startup Otto, which was acquired by Uber for $680 million.

"Waymo's injunction motion is a misfire", Angela Padilla, associate general counsel at Uber, said in a prepared statement. "If Waymo genuinely thought that Uber was using its secrets, it would not have waited more than five months to seek an injunction. Waymo doesn't meet the high bar for an injunction, which would stifle independent innovation and competition".

Uber's best bet to convince the judge not to grant Waymo's request for an injunction is to prove that it hasn't used any of Waymo's proprietary designs in its own self-driving system - regardless of what documents either Uber or Levandowski may have in their possession.

Waymo alleges a former manager, Anthony Levandowski, stole its patented ideas before leaving Google early last year to found a self-driving vehicle startup called Otto that Uber bought for $680 million last year. Uber bought the startup, Otto, last year. The 9.7 gigabits of data contain trade secrets, Waymo said. However, Uber has stated that its lidar is considerably different when compared to Waymo's since Uber's is composed of four distinct light detection lenses and the "stolen" one only has one lens. Uber argues there is no evidence of any stolen files. Uber says it began developing its LIDAR technology nearly a year before Levandowski was hired at Uber. Levandowski, meanwhile, has asserted his Fifth Amendment rights to protect himself if criminal charges are filed against him.

Levandowski helped develop Waymo's lidar technology, a key component in self-driving cars that lets the vehicles "see" their surroundings and detect traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists and other obstacles.

Uber acknowledged this in a legal filing on Friday, in which the company responded to bombshell trade theft lawsuit filed against it by rival Google in February.

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Uber is in a challenging position, as U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco noted in court proceedings on April 5.

Uber also argued that its 4 lens LiDAR systems were totally different from Waymo's single lens ones. Testimony submitted by Waymo alleges that Levandowski met with Uber before Otto was founded, although Levandowski said those meetings were to look for investors for his new company. It also claims that Levandowski and Lior Ron, another Otto co-founder who previously worked for Google, allegedly poached Google employees using confidential information, such as salaries and compensation packages.

The allegations put forward by Waymo arguably represent the biggest threat to Uber's long-term financial survival - more so than the harassment scandal or any of the other controversies that have enveloped the company in recent months. In addition to that, there is another complication: Mr. Levandowski is not cooperating with Uber's lawyers in the document-search procedure. At one point Alsup warned he might go as far as to bar Levandowski from working on Uber's program until the litigation is resolved.

"You are hiding from me what the real facts are". "And you are looking at a preliminary injunction even if it's true". Maybe you will, maybe you will. And if it's going to be denied, then how can you take the Fifth Amendment?

"This is an extraordinary case".

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