Uber says never used Waymo files on self-driving

Anthony Levandowski

Anthony Levandowski

Uber Technologies Inc. has an alibi for Alphabet Inc.'s allegations of trade-secrets theft - the ride-hailing company is using off-the-shelf technology in its driverless cars weaving through San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

Google has accused its former driverless-car executive Anthony Levandowski of slyly developing a competing company for more than three years before he left the Internet giant and later sold the business to Uber Technologies.

Uber may have its work cut out to sway Alsup, who has said in previous court hearings that Waymo has presented some of the strongest evidence he has seen in his judicial career. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. was brought in to investigate accusations of systemic gender discrimination and cover-ups at Uber.

An Uber spokesman says the company only produced those 900 documents after it conducted what it calls an "extensive search", because it doesn't believe it has the files and can't force its employees to turn over personal property. "A cursory inspection of Uber's LiDAR and Waymo's allegations fall like a house of cards". Levandowski recently invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, against the advice of Uber's lawyers. If a judge rules in Waymo's favor, Uber would have to stop using anything that Waymo included in a list of trade secrets.

The judge directed Ramsey to provide him after the hearing with a description of the documents Levandowski doesn't want revealed, and to give a redacted version to Waymo.

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".

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From the bench, the judge has blasted Uber for insufficient cooperation with his order to search company and employee computers for copies of the documents.

"We did collect documents from him and thus far we have only found one document from his computers that matches the documents identified in the complaint", Gonzalez said. You have got to do more than what you are telling me. "Uber's assertion that they've never touched the 14,000 stolen files is disingenuous at best, given their refusal to look in the most obvious place: The computers and devices owned by the head of their self-driving program", a Waymo spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "You keep on your payroll someone who took 14,000 documents and is liable to use them". Indeed, the same attorneys representing Uber also represent Mr. Levandowski personally in the Levandowski arbitration, and these attorneys presently argue (without support) that this suit should be merged with that arbitration. The most interesting part of the battle is the fact that Anthony Levandowski has asserted his right to the Fifth Amendment.

While Uber's lawyers may be correct that the files never made it to their servers, that doesn't mean that they aren't in their possession.

Uber's LiDAR, the company said, used four lenses, while Waymo's used one, a fundamental difference that Uber suggests proves that the device is not based on misappropriated secrets.

This is the first time Uber has publicly laid out its side of the case since Waymo filed the suit in February, which is being heard in the District Court for the Northern District of California. Waymo says in the lawsuit that the circuit board bears a striking resemblance to its own highly confidential and proprietary design and reflects Waymo trade secrets.