Uber strikes back against Waymo's lawsuit over alleged stolen trade secrets

Anthony Levandowski

Anthony Levandowski

(Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has called self-driving cars an existential threat to the ride-hail giant's business.) The company also said the fact that Waymo waited for five months after learning Levandowski downloaded files to seek an injunction against Uber shows a lack of urgency. The lawsuit, won't be going before a jury until six months from now in October, but Uber is already on the backfoot.It all started when Waymo, in its lawsuit filing, alleged that former Google employee Anthony Levandowski "made off with 14,000 confidential documents and trade secrets".

The company dismissed Uber's assertion that none of the files were on its servers by pointing out that the firm's search had not been able to include the computer belonging to the man at the centre of the controversy, Mr Levandowski.

Uber made its argument as it tries to fight off Waymo's request for a preliminary injunction to stop Uber from using what Waymo claims are stolen trade secrets, an action which would halt Uber's progress toward developing a self-driving auto, seen as the inevitable future for ride-hailing firms.

Additionally, Uber argues that since asking for the injunction, Waymo has not produced evidence to support its allegations. Waymo is accusing Google of using their driverless auto technologies obtained from an ex-Google employee that is now working in Uber.

The lawsuit centers around laser technology called LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), which helps self-driving cars see and navigate. Waymo says it's "disingenuous" for Uber to say it's never touched the 14,000 files since it's not looking into the computers and devices of the head of its self-driving program. The company described the development of its own LiDAR system, which it said was substantially different from that of Waymo. "You haven't searched well enough", he told Uber's lawyer at a hearing on Wednesday.

The ride-hailing services company presents several arguments in its opposition filing, including that the design of a key piece of technology at the heart of the lawsuit is different than Waymo's.

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Waymo has accused two other former Google employees of allegedly downloading proprietary files.

"Waymo's injunction motion is a misfire: There is no evidence that any of the 14,000 files in question ever touched Uber's servers and Waymo's assertion that our multi-lens lidar is the same as their single-lens lidar is clearly false", says Uber's Angela Padilla. Uber did not address the potential claim that its LIDAR simply consists of four integrated copies of Waymo's.

For starters, Uber has acquired Otto although it is unclear if Levandowski really did provide information that's supposed to be owned by Waymo to its new business partner.

Boehmke worked alongside engineers who came from Tyto Lidar LLC, a company that joined Uber with Levandowski. Uber, at the moment, has dozens of driverless cars - Volvo XC90 SUVs - in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. was brought in to investigate accusations of systemic gender discrimination and cover-ups at Uber. The company's Otto self-driving trucks, which are deployed in Nevada, do not use even use lidar, Uber says. The case should be subject to an arbitration agreement based on Levandowski's employee contract.

Further complicating matters, Uber says, is Levandowski's own decision to invoke Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, something Uber believes is hampering its own defense against the charges.

"And no wonder Uber's LiDAR was developed by a different team, using a different beam pattern, and leveraging different know-how".

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