Sunday, 20 August, 2017

Judge refers theft allegations against Uber to prosecutors

People outside the Uber offices in Queens New York U.S People outside the Uber offices in Queens New York U.S
Lori Graves | 13 May, 2017, 10:52

District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco requested the criminal justice review late Thursday "for investigation of possible theft of trade secrets".

Uber argued its rival's trade secret theft allegations should go ahead in private arbitration, but United States district judge William Alsup ruled against it.

The theft allegations date back to February when Waymo, owned by Google parent company Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), sued Uber in February of this year after they said they believed Uber had carried out a "calculated theft" of its new self-driving technology.

As CNet notes in the ruling, which you can read in full here, Judge Alsup also dismissed Uber's claims that Waymo was "using "artful" or "tactical" pleading to evade its obligation for arbitration" by removing the man at the center of this case, Anthony Levandowski, as a defendant. But assuming that he applied the exacting likelihood-of-success standard to Waymo's evidence that Uber misappropriated trade secrets, Thursday night's rulings mean Uber is now stuck litigating in front of a judge who thinks Waymo has a quite convincing case.

Uber has been aggressively pursuing self-driving vehicle technology over the past two years as it seeks to remove the most expensive part of its business model, the driver.

Uber has denied using Waymo technology, but the case has been complicated by Levandowski's invocation of his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.

In another blow, the judge denied Uber's request to move the case out of the courts and into arbitration. In a statement the company said "we remain confident in our case and welcome the chance to talk about our independently developed technology".

Uber did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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The self-driving auto company, in a lawsuit filed in February at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, claimed that these files contained Waymo's LiDAR (a laser-based scanning and mapping technology) circuit board designs.

Uber has argued that Waymo's lawsuit was just a tactic to stall a competitor in the race for the billions of dollars attached to the coming autonomous auto revolution.

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".

Ride-hailing giant Uber is in a legal battle with Waymo for allegedly colluding to steal technology from the self-driving auto program.

Waymo described Uber's attempt to force arbitration as a "desperate bid" to avoid dealing with the suit. The ride-hailing company has cars in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Tempe, Ariz.

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

"We look forward to holding Uber responsible in court for its misconduct", Waymo said in a statement.

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