Uber refutes claims of stolen trade secrets

Anthony Levandowski

Anthony LevandowskiOtto

In a federal filing, the ride services company said its self-driving technology was independently developed, and never relied on Alphabet Inc-owned Waymo's confidential files.

An injunction could prove chaotic for Uber, which has said that self-driving cars are "existential" for the company.

"To be clear, Uber never had possession of or used any of Waymo's trade secrets or the 14,000 files that Waymo alleges Mr. Levandowski downloaded", according to the filing. The company alleged that the stolen information benefitted Uber as it has developed its own driverless auto tech. Levandowski has not handed over the allegedly stolen documents and Uber, which has never denied that Levandowski took the files, claims it can not force him to do so.

Waymo was copied on an email from one of its LiDAR component vendors, according to Waymo's account in its lawsuit against Uber. The brief comes in response to Waymo's motion for a preliminary injunction, which if granted, would force Uber to stop using anything that could be a Waymo trade secret. But Waymo contends that Levandowski probably has the files on a non-company device, which Waymo has not been able to search.

Anthony LevandowskiOttoDespite not being named in the lawsuit, Levandowski's lawyers told the court on Thursday that Levandowski has invoked his fifth amendment rights to prevent the disclosure of documents that could potentially lead to self-incrimination.

Alsup has also suggested that Uber had leverage over Levandowski it had not used, such as threatening to fire him should he not hand over the documents. And Uber's ability to justify its huge $70 billion valuation could take a serious hit.

At the time, Alsup urged Uber's lawyers to present stronger evidence to support their argument.

Michael Brophy, intellectual property attorney with Withers Bergman, said cases like this often end up with one of three outcomes: quick settlement; dismissal of the suit for lack of evidence, lack of legally protectable property or another defense; or public trial. Reportedly, Levandowski downloaded a ton of confidential files that spelled out the plans that Waymo had for their LiDAR unit for their self-driving cars, and then took them to Uber. You have got to do more than what you are telling me. "We're going to demonstrate to you that we are not using any of these things that they say he may have taken", Uber's attorney said. Uber later argued that this was unsupported since both designs were different and did not had "a striking resemblance". "It is these same attorneys who simultaneously represent to this Court that they have not and can not review Mr. Levandowski's files". The company has been hampered there by Levandowski's assertion of the fifth amendment.

Come April 2016, Anthony Levandowski signed a confidentiality agreement with Uber.

Levandowski and Uber stole the element Waymo claims is called lidar. This would damage the company significantly since its executives have oriented their efforts to catch up other enterprises like Waymo which are working in that particular technologic field efficiently. It also says that if Waymo was so concerned, it shouldn't have waited for five months to file an injunction. However, Uber has stated that its lidar is considerably different when compared to Waymo's since Uber's is composed of four distinct light detection lenses and the "stolen" one only has one lens. A hearing for the injunction is set for early May.

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