Waymo injunction claim is a "misfire", says Uber

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. He and two other Waymo employees are accused of downloading thousands of confidential files, including lidar circuit board designs, before he left Waymo previous year and launched his own robocar startup, Otto, that was acquired by Uber for $680 million.

Uber has claimed that its self-driving technology is unique and distinct from what Alphabet has created.

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.

If the Google lawsuit is successful, Uber could be blocked from using the technology powering its self-driving cars.

In a new revelation on Thursday, Levandowski's attorney told the court that Levandowski would appeal to use his fifth amendment right in order to avoid disclosure of any information related to the documents that would ultiamtley lead to accepting the allegations. 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.

"Waymo could not be more wrong, and Uber's design could not be more different", Uber's lawyers wrote in their rebuttal to the allegations.

Waymo alleges Levandowski plotted his betrayal to Uber while he was still an executive at the Google unit.

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The complaint added that Waymo "cannot show" that Uber misappropriated its trade secrets or infringed its patents.

Boehmke worked alongside engineers who came from Tyto Lidar LLC, a company that joined Uber with Levandowski.

What's more, Uber says its custom-designed LiDAR system hasn't even been installed on the self-driving cars that it has been testing in Pittsburgh, Arizona and San Francisco.

"Frankly, we obviously have a conflict here", Uber's attorney Arturo Gonzalez said to Judge Aslup during a closed-door hearing last week.

That all took place before Uber acquired Levandowki's startup company Ottomotto (subsequently referred to as "Otto") in August 2016, with Uber claiming: "Uber acquired Ottomotto for its expert personnel, not trade secrets; in fact, all Ottomotto employees signed offer letters and attestations swearing that they would not bring any other company's trade secrets to Uber or use them in connection with their Uber work".

Uber filed its response (pdf) at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division on Friday, April 7.