Uber denies stealing Google technology

Posted April 13, 2017

Uber is refuting claims that its expansion into self-driving cars hinges on trade secrets stolen from a Google spinoff, arguing that its ride-hailing service has been working on potentially superior technology. Levandowski is now the head of all of Uber's self-driving efforts.

US District Judge William Alsup has said, however, that he will not accept Uber's defence of being unable to find the files as a reason not to grant the injunction.

The complaint added that Waymo "cannot show" that Uber misappropriated its trade secrets or infringed its patents. "Specifically, for purposes of Waymo's motion for preliminary injunction, the Court should issue an adverse inference that the downloaded files were and continue to be used by Uber in the development of its custom LiDAR system". Even though Uber says it searched the computers of the employees in question as well as other randomly selected ones, but Waymo is not convinced. She also stressed out that Waymo is assuming that Uber's multi-lens LiDAR is the same as theirs, which she strongly objected. In other words, Levandowski can't be compelled by the courts or by Uber to produce any documents that could incriminate him. That has put Uber, which is valued at $70 billion, in a tricky spot.

"Uber made sure to have policies and practices in place to prevent misappropriation, and these measures have worked", the suit said.

The case doesn't look great for Uber, however.

"You're not denying it, no one is denying he has the 14,000 files".

In asserting its key defenses publicly Friday for the first time, six weeks after Waymo sued, Uber argues it's been wrongly accused. "You have got to do more than what you are telling me".

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The court war is among two technology giant companies, Waymo and Uber relating to the self-driven auto technology.

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Levandowski's appeal itself wasn't immediately available, but he filed a notice with the district court Tuesday.

"It could well change", Ehrlich said. "We're representing him, not Uber". In fact, Waymo is now in the middle of arbitration with Levandowski - which began in October - whom they accused of using confidential information to poach employees for competing companies. Employee contracts at Alphabet state that disputes with the company should be resolved in arbitration.

Google was also interested in acquiring Tyto Lidar - a little-known laser-radar startup - which merged with Odin Wave, according to the company.

Yesterday, in fact, Alphabet filed an opposition to Uber's request for arbitration (via Recode), which would have essentially granted the whole debacle to remain private. If Waymo genuinely thought that Uber was using its secrets, it would not have waited more than five months to seek an injunction. A hearing for the injunction is set for early May.