Court Partially Grants Waymo's Injunction Bid Against Uber

Reuters

Reuters

Alsup also issued an additional order on Thursday referring the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation of possible trade secret theft. The judge has yet to decide about whether or not to slap Uber with a preliminary injunction, which could limit what kinds of self-driving auto work the ride-share company could do.

Otto's LiDAR sensor technology was one of the key reasons Uber acquired the company, according to Waymo.

Judge Alsup made a point during the hearing of saying that Waymo's lawyers had proven their case against Levandowski stealing the technology, but he was notably less certain about whether Uber was complicit in the theft, suggesting that the company could be entirely innocent and simply hired a talented engineer. "We remain confident in our case and welcome the chance to talk about our independently developed technology in any forum". But Judge Alsup read them as implicit accusations - and found them to be "unwarranted". They said the judge's move suggests he believes there is strong evidence of trade-secret theft and potentially that federal investigators will be able to uncover more evidence than Alphabet's attorneys.

Uber tried to take the matter privately and argued that only an arbiter is enough to judge whether Waymo's lawsuit has merit at all. "Defendants have repeatedly accused Waymo of using "artful" or "tactical" pleading to evade its arbitration obligations by omitting Levandowski as a defendant", Alsup said.

Waymo alleges that in mid-2015, Anthony Levandowski, one of its self-driving vehicle engineers, met with top executives at Uber about finding a way for the latter to acquire Waymo's engineering team and its lidar technology (which helps self-driving cars "see"). The company had, in fact, honored its arbitration agreement with Levandowski by bringing arbitration claims against its former employee. Due to the nature of the release, the contents of the ruling are still unknown, though the court docket reveals that the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction against the defendant has been partially denied and partially granted. Waymo's suing Uber in court "was not only reasonable but also the only course available", he wrote.

Texas stokes immigration debate with 'sanctuary cities' ban
He pointed out it only outlaws local ordinances that prevent law enforcement agencies from complying with federal immigration law. Hernandez softened her policy after Abbott cut funding to the county, saying decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.

Uber declined to comment on the criminal referral.

The US judge overhearing a trade secrets and patent infringement clash between Waymo, formerly Google's self-driving auto division, and Uber has referred the suit to federal prosecutors.

Though Uber lost its argument in favor of arbitration, Uber could've still opted to settle the civil suit privately at any time, minimizing the potential for bad press.

All in all, things are not looking too good for Uber as the company keeps facing setback after setback in its legal battle with Waymo.

Uber have said that Levandowski will temporarily step down from working on their self-driving vehicle while the case is being carried out.