Uber fires back at Google spinoff in self-driving car case

08 April, 2017, 00:42 | Author: Delbert Rhodes
  • Google Accuses Exec Of Stealing

Uber also asked the court to deny Waymo's request for an injunction of Uber's self-driving auto program and said Waymo's accusations were "demonstrably false".

The headquarters of Uber in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO Uber Technologies Inc said on Friday its self-driving sensor technology was "fundamentally different" from Waymo's, blasting the Alphabet Inc unit's claim that it profited from stolen files in the race to roll out the first driverless auto. Levandowski was then named the head of Uber's self-driving vehicle program.

"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", said Angela Padilla, Uber associate general counsel said in a statement "If Waymo genuinely thought that Uber was using its secrets, it would not have waited more than five months to seek an injunction". "We're asking the court to step in based on clear evidence that Uber is using, or plans to use, our trade secrets to develop their LiDAR technology, as seen in both circuit board blueprints and filings in the State of Nevada". He and two other Waymo employees are accused of downloading thousands of confidential files, including lidar circuit board designs, before he left Waymo a year ago and launched his own robocar startup, Otto, that was acquired by Uber for $680 million.

Levandowski left Google in 2016 to found Otto, which was quickly acquired by Uber. The company alleged that the stolen information benefitted Uber as it has developed its own driverless auto tech.

Google spin-off Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming the ride-hailing giant ripped off a key piece of Waymo's self-driving auto technology. The 9.7 gigabits of data contain trade secrets, Waymo said.

During a hearing on Thursday, Uber's attorney Arturo Gonzalez said that the engineer was "not someone who has to steal anything", adding, "He knows his stuff".

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"We can't produce something that we do not have", Gonzalez said.

Uber has denied the accusations that it took Waymo's technology. And Uber's defense is complicated by the fact that-for now-Levandowski has said he's going to plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, if he's asked to testify.

Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) unit Waymo's suit alleges that its former employee Anthony Levandowski stole 14,000 files full of self-driving vehicle trade secrets when he moved on to found his own self-driving auto company Otto, which Uber later acquired for $680 million.

On Friday, six weeks after Waymo sued Uber, the ride-hailing giant finally filed an opposition laying out its counterargument. After conducting its investigation of Levandowski's work computer, the computers of two other people named in the suit and seven randomly chosen employees, Uber only produced 900 documents. Waymo claims those files contained information about its proprietary LiDAR sensors.

Uber said its own forensic analysis concluded that no Waymo documents crossed over into Uber's systems, and that halting its program "would impede Uber's efforts to remain a viable business".

In the meantime, Uber has filed for a motion to arbitrate the case, arguing that because Waymo's case is entirely predicated on actions Levandowski allegedly committed during his employment, it should be bound by his employment agreement.

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