Uber vs. Waymo: case to go to trail, judge orders

  • Uber vs. Waymo: case to go to trail, judge orders

Uber vs. Waymo: case to go to trail, judge orders

In an unexpected twist on Thursday evening, the federal judge presiding over Waymo's bitter lawsuit against Uber referred the case to the United States attorney to investigate allegations that the ride-hail giant stole trade secrets from the Google driverless auto spinoff.

Further, Judge William Alsup rejected Uber's argument that Waymo's trade secret accusations should be taken ahead in private arbitration, reports Reuters.

Alphabet's self-driving vehicle unit, Waymo, has sued Uber, claiming that the ride-hailing start-up is using key parts of Waymo's self-driving technology.

Judge William Alsup's referral of the case to the USA attorney came amid a flurry of orders in the contentious lawsuit between two Silicon Valley giants.

JudgeWilliam Alsup, who is presiding over the case, also has partially granted Waymo's request for a preliminary injunction against Uber. The judge added that it's not the Court's decision to determine whether prosecution is warranted or not, it's entirely up to the U.S. Attorney.

In an email to employees announcing the change, Levandowski said he hopes his removal from all LiDAR projects will help "keep the team focused on achieving the vision that brought us all here". In his arbitration ruling, however, the judge noted the record contained "ample evidence" that Levandowski breached his duty of loyalty to Waymo. Waymo's attorneys claim that Otto is only a front company with the sole goal to help Uber acquire self-driving tech, calling it a "cover-up" scheme.

"Indeed, it appears Waymo can make out its case-in-chief without any reference to either agreement", he wrote in refusing to compel arbitration. This is close to a worst-case scenario for Uber as it desperately tried to avoid the case from going into public.

Uber wouldn't comment Friday on a possible criminal probe.

Waymo's lawsuit accusing Uber of stealing trade secrets will play out in public court after all.

Uber paid Levandowski a hefty sum, $680 million, to purchase a startup he created while still working at Google, the self-driving trucking company Otto.

Uber has said in court that it never possessed and used any information Levandowski allegedly took from Waymo. Mr Levandowski has refused to hand the laptop on which he is alleged to have downloaded the documents over for examination, and declined to answer questions made by Waymo.

After leaving Google previous year, Levandowski's self-driving truck start-up, Otto, was soon acquired by Uber - which, Waymo alleged in court proceedings, was a ruse to help Uber get its hands on Google's self-driving secrets. In court last week, Uber's lawyer Gonzalez said "we'll produce our CEO for deposition".

Judge Alsop also ruled late on Thursday on Waymo's request for a preliminary injunction against Uber, an action that could seriously dent its driverless vehicle effort, though the decision remained under seal while it was determined whether some parts of the order should be redacted.