Following publicly reported indecision on the matter, the US judge presiding over Waymo’s/Google’s lawsuit against Uber for trade-secrets theft has now reportedly decided to request that prosecutors investigate the claims made by Waymo/Google.
Notably, though, the judge in question, US District Judge William Alsup, stated in the order on the matter that “he takes no position on whether prosecution is warranted,” as reported (and worded) by Reuters.
Here’s more from that coverage: “Uber declined to comment on the referral to prosecutors, as did a spokesman for Waymo. [Anthony] Levandowski’s criminal lawyer, Miles Ehrlich, didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the referral sent after regular business hours. … Alsup’s referral of the case to federal prosecutors complicates the litigation for Uber, said Jim Pooley, a Silicon Valley intellectual property lawyer who isn’t involved in the case. ‘There’s an implication that the judge sees something serious enough that it deserves the attention of authorities to consider whether a crime has been committed,’ Pooley said.”
For those of us not fully briefed on the differences between a civil case and a criminal case, Pooley provided a short summary of the importance here in terms of the process. “Uber’s lawyers have considerable influence over the civil case, and could settle it, he said. ‘The potential for an actual criminal proceeding makes it that much more difficult to control, or affect the ultimate outcome of the dispute.’ … Waymo had asked the judge to effectively shut down Uber’s program to keep it from using the allegedly stolen secrets. In an order issued Thursday that was sealed from public view, Alsup partly granted and partly denied Waymo’s request for a preliminary injunction, without elaborating.”
Altogether, what this means is that an actual trial in open court is looking increasingly likely. Such a trial would likely take place sometime later this year. That would certainly make for an interesting spectacle, wouldn’t it?
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