Waymo/Google Accuses Uber Of Covering Up Trade Secret Theft

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As we reported previously, Waymo/Google is currently in the process of suing Uber over the alleged theft of 9.7 GB of confidential materials relating to Waymo’s self-driving vehicle tech. The thief in this story is claimed to be former engineer Anthony Levandowski, who now works for Uber.

The whole story is rather convoluted, so I’ll just point those interested in reading an in-depth explanation to this earlier piece. Following the initial allegations, Waymo/Google also petitioned authorities to shut down Uber’s self-driving vehicle tech testing, as it allegedly relies on proprietary Waymo/Google LiDAR tech.

The latest news is that Waymo/Google is now accusing Uber of actively covering up trade secret theft — which adds considerably to the seriousness of the company’s charges against Uber. Bloomberg has more:

Waymo said it has “finally learned” of a project designed by Levandowski while he was in possession of Waymo’s files. Uber has hidden the code-named design from the court, according to the filing. The name is redacted in the filing.

“They were hiding a device,” Waymo wrote, “which Uber only revealed to Waymo after one of its engineers was forced to admit it existed.”

Uber spokesman Matt Kallman said the code-named device was an abandoned project that never reached a prototype. Far from keeping it secret, Uber made it available to Waymo to inspect and photograph as part of court-ordered information sharing, he said. Waymo’s emphasis on the unnamed device represents a strategic pivot by Waymo and a retreat from its original claims, he said.

Uber is fighting the case so far without testimony from Levandowski, who wasn’t named as a defendant, but has said he’s at risk of being criminally prosecuted and has asserted his constitutional right to protect himself from self-incrimination.

Uber has argued that it had put in place a lidar project before Levandowski joined the company and that he wasn’t involved in its design.

So, the situation grows more convoluted by the day. Some clarity may arrive with the beginning of preliminary injunction hearings next month.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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