Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

Lucy Hill
May 16, 2017

On Lyft's end, the partnership may bolster its position in the battle against rival Uber Technologies Inc., which is involved in a legal battle with Waymo. There are also bad relations between Uber and Waymo.

Google's driverless auto arm alleges Levandowski stole trade secrets related to Lidar while working their and before founding Otto which was later acquired by Uber.

The LiDar system uses pulsing lasers read by a special sensor to detect the distance from a target, a key piece of technology in developing self-driving cars.

"Waymo has also sufficiently shown. that the 14,000-plus purloined files likely contain at least some trade secrets".

Alsup said Waymo "has shown compelling evidence that its former star engineer" downloaded the documents from Waymo's computers before leaving the company.

The ruling states Uber can still work on its own autonomous vehicle project so long as the documents are returned by May 31, and Levandowski is removed from any related work.

Waymo, a company under Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG,GOOGL), and Lyft are teaming up on self-driving cars.

The judge stated in his ruling that "Waymo still fell short of showing that its trade secrets were used" although it is hard to think that Levandowski "plundered Waymo's vault the way he did" without intent to use the files.

Numerous sections of the opinion were blacked out to protect trade secrets.

Waymo's request hinged on claims of patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation.

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"We are pleased with the court's ruling that Uber can continue building and utilizing all of its self-driving technology, including our innovation around LiDAR", an Uber spokeswoman wrote in an email. "We look forward to moving toward trial and continuing to demonstrate that our technology has been built independently from the ground up", an Uber spokesperson told IBT.

Messages were left Monday for lawyers representing Levandowski and the companies he formed.

Monday's ruling is temporary, and is intended only to offer relief to Waymo while the case proceeds to a scheduled October trial.

Experts say prosecutors are likely to follow up on Alsup's order and launch an investigation.

The order also denied Uber's request to move the lawsuit into private arbitration and referred the case to the USA attorney general.

Federal law covers both the person who stole a trade secret and anyone who "receives, buys or possesses it, knowing the same to have been stolen", McQuade said.

The deal between Waymo and Lyft will have the two companies working together on pilot program and development of self-driving cars.

Levandowski used to work at Google but quit in January 2016 to form his own self-driving truck startup, called Otto.

Apparently, the deal between Waymo and Lyft was signed for some time, but the company insiders who had revealed it under cover of anonymity could not reveal details about it until both parties were ready to make it official.

At stake for Uber is nothing less than the company's own future, with Uber execs staking huge bets and investments on self-driving cars being the next big technological breakthrough for the company and automotive industry.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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