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posted by martyb on Thursday September 14 2017, @02:03AM   Printer-friendly
from the self-driving-litigation dept.

Uber's attempt to move Waymo's trade secrets lawsuit out of an appeals court and to an arbitrator has not succeeded:

Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo can proceed with a planned October trial over claims Uber Technologies Inc. stole trade secrets for self-driving vehicles after a U.S. appeals court declined to punt the case to an arbitrator and rejected an effort to keep Waymo from seeing critical evidence.

Uber had argued the dispute should be considered in secret before an arbitrator because the heart of Waymo's allegations are related to the actions of engineer Anthony Levandowski, a former employee of both companies. Uber's appeal was rejected Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, as was Levandowski's request that Waymo not be allowed to see a report by a cyberforensics firm that looked into Uber's purchase of his company, Otto LLC.

Levandowski's employment contract with Waymo included a broad provision that any disputes would go before an arbitrator. Waymo never sued Levandowski; instead the question of whether he violated that contract is before an arbitrator, with a hearing scheduled for April. A three-judge appeals court panel said that requirement didn't extend to Uber. Waymo pledged not to rely on the Levandowski employment contract in its case, though Uber argued that wasn't a realistic promise.

Also at Reuters.

Previously: Waymo Drops Three of Four Patent Claims Against Uber
Uber's Former CEO Travis and Google Co-Founder Both Face Deposition in Trade Secrets Case
Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released

Original Submission

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Waymo Drops Three of Four Patent Claims Against Uber 5 comments

Google's Waymo is dropping most of its patent claims against Uber, narrowing the case's focus to one patent and the many trade secrets allegedly stolen:

Waymo, Alphabet Inc.'s self-driving car division, dropped three of four patent-infringement claims in its lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. over the startup's autonomous vehicle program.

Waymo's decision to include patent claims in its complaint against Uber was a surprise move for Google parent Alphabet, which normally prides itself on limiting patent fights. The bulk of Waymo's case is not over patents, but trade secrets.

Waymo alleges that Uber stole trade secrets from Waymo when Anthony Levandowski, who worked for Waymo, downloaded 14,000 files to his personal computer and then joined Uber to lead the startup's driverless car program. Uber fired Levandowski in late May. The executive has invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination and has refused to testify in the case, hindering Uber's ability to defend itself against Waymo's claims.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco has asked Waymo to narrow its more than 100 trade secrets claims to fewer than 10 to put in front of a jury. In a June 7 hearing, he also said, "I want to reiterate to the plaintiff here that you should think a lot about just dropping the patent part of this case."

Also at Business Insider and Recode. Vanity Fair reports on a legal filing in the case that includes emails sent by Uber's former CEO Travis Kalanick. They depict him desperately seeking a partnership with Google and reacting to talk about Google launching an autonomous ride-hailing service.

Google Spin-Off Waymo Accuses Uber of Stealing Self-Driving Tech
Uber Could Face Injunction Stopping It From Testing Driverless Cars
Lyft and Waymo (Google) Team Up for Autonomous Cars
Uber Fires Former Google Engineer Anthony Levandowski

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Uber's Former CEO Travis and Google Co-Founder Both Face Deposition in Trade Secrets Case 2 comments

Ahead of a deposition in the Waymo v. Uber case, Travis Kalanick has hired the San Francisco-based litigator Melinda Haag:

Uber's former chief executive, Travis Kalanick, has hired the former top federal prosecutor in San Francisco to represent him ahead of a deposition in a high-profile trade secrets case against Alphabet's Waymo self-driving car unit, the attorney's firm said on Wednesday.

Melinda Haag, who served as U.S. attorney in Northern California under President Barack Obama, now practices white-collar defense law at the Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe firm. She and a partner, Walter Brown, are representing Kalanick, Orrick spokesman Howard Mintz said.

Mintz declined to discuss the scope of Orrick's representation of Kalanick, who currently serves on Uber's board. A Kalanick representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kalanick is scheduled to be interviewed under oath by Waymo lawyers this week, Waymo attorney David Perlson said at a court hearing on Wednesday.

Kalanick isn't the only one facing deposition:

In the latest hearing in the Uber vs. Waymo lawsuit on Wednesday, San Francisco district judge William Alsup addressed Uber's complaint that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is trying to avoid deposition.

Alsup said, "you go back and tell that guy he better show up," after voicing frustration at Alphabet executives claiming they are "too busy." Brin is currently the president of Alphabet, the holding company that includes both Google and Waymo, the self-driving car unit that was spun out of Google.

Also at Bloomberg.

Previously: Waymo Drops Three of Four Patent Claims Against Uber

Original Submission

Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released 13 comments

Unsealed court filings in the Waymo vs. Uber case include texts between former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski, the engineer accused of stealing secrets from Waymo/Google:

On March 19, 2016, before Uber acquired Otto, Levandowski and Kalanick exchanged messages catching up on their recent "jam" session. The pair were apparently trying to prod an engineer, whose name is redacted in the filings.

"Internet, electricity, self driving cars and key things will always find a way," Levandowski texted Kalanick, linking to a YouTube clip from the 1987 movie "Wall Street." In the clip, the main character gives a famous speech of why "greed is good." "Here's the speech you need to give ;-)."

Kalanick briefly updated Levandowski on Uber's food delivery business, then wrote, "The way you keep China in check is showing up when they ask every once in a while."

But Uber was losing $1 billion a year in China, and by August, Uber sold its Chinese business to rival Didi Chuxing.

Kalanick was also eager to partner with Google as it sought to enter into the ride-hailing market, and dismissive of Tesla's autonomous mode safety claims.

The best exchanges:

9/19/2016 Levandowski: We're going to take over the world

9/19/2016 Levandowski: One robot at a time

10/7/2016 Kalanick: Down to hang this eve and mastermind some shit

Original Submission

Uber v. Waymo Trial Delayed Because Uber Withheld Evidence 6 comments

A whistleblower from Uber's former "Strategic Services Group" has caused the Waymo v. Uber trial to be delayed again because Uber withheld evidence:

An Uber Technologies Inc. whistle-blower made explosive allegations that a company team stole trade secrets to gain an edge over rivals, prompting a judge to further delay the ride-hailing company's trial with Waymo.

Richard Jacobs, who worked for a now-disbanded corporate surveillance team at Uber, told the judge that stealing trade secrets was part of his former colleagues' mission, along with monitoring information on metrics and incentives for drivers who operate on competitor platforms overseas.

Jacobs was put under oath at a hearing Tuesday after the judge was alerted last week by U.S. prosecutors that he communicated with them in their probe of trade-secret theft at Uber. U.S. District Judge William Alsup said he takes Jacobs's account seriously because prosecutors found it credible.

[...] Jacobs testified that the surveillance team used "anonymous servers" separate from the "main part of Uber." He was asked by a lawyer for Waymo about a staff attorney at Uber who allegedly guided efforts to "impede, obstruct, or influence" lawsuits against the company.

Also at Reuters, BBC, and Recode.

Previously: Waymo v. Uber Continues, Will Not Move to Arbitration
Alphabet Seeking $2.6 Billion in Damages From Uber
Waymo's Case Against Uber "Shrinks" After Trade Secret Claim Thrown Out

Original Submission

Waymo v. Uber Jury Trial Begins 6 comments

The Waymo v. Uber jury trial is set to begin Monday and is expected to end during the week of February 19. It's not a matter of good vs. evil:

"The trial will be a trial on Waymo's claims of trade secret misappropriation, not a trial on Uber's litigation practices or corporate culture," Judge Alsup wrote on January 30.

[...] Alsup went on to say that both sides have engaged in "half-truths and other slick litigation conduct" and that Waymo, which has "whined—often without good reason—at every turn in this case," essentially needs to put up or shut up.

"To repeat, the central issue in this case remains whether or not Uber misappropriated Waymo's trade secrets, not whether or not Uber is an evil corporation," the judge continued. "Waymo's decision to devote so much time and effort to pursuing matters with so little connection to the merits raises the troubling possibility that Waymo is unwilling or unable to prove up a solid case on the merits and instead seeks to inflame the jury against Uber with a litany of supposed bad acts."

Also at The Verge and FT (paywalled).

Previously: Waymo v. Uber Continues, Will Not Move to Arbitration
Waymo's Case Against Uber "Shrinks" After Trade Secret Claim Thrown Out
Uber v. Waymo Trial Delayed Because Uber Withheld Evidence
A Spectator Who Threw A Wrench In The Waymo/Uber Lawsuit

Related: Uber Letter Alleges Surveillance on Politicians and Competitors
The Fall of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick
Waymo Orders Thousands More Chrysler Pacifica Minivans for Driverless Fleet

Original Submission

Waymo's Case Against Uber "Shrinks" After Trade Secret Claim Thrown Out 2 comments

Google/Alphabet/Waymo's case against Uber has been dealt a setback following a number of unfavorable rulings:

A federal judge threw out a key trade-secret theft claim in the Alphabet Inc.'s unit lawsuit alleging that one of its former engineers schemed with the ride-hailing giant to steal critical know-how. The judge also rejected a technical analysis by one of Waymo's expert witnesses. In addition, he dismissed one of the defendants in the case, which will put more pressure on Waymo to prove that Uber itself engaged in misconduct independent of whether the engineer misappropriated proprietary information.

Legal experts said they can't read too much into the judge's ruling narrowing the list of trade secrets to be presented to a jury to eight from nine because many of the court documents describing the details of each secret are sealed from public view. The dismissal of the one claim won't reduce the $1.86 billion in damages Waymo is seeking because that figure is based on a different trade secret. Waymo was originally pursuing 121 separate claims but was ordered by Alsup to whittle them down to keep the case from becoming unwieldy.

[...] A spokesman for Uber said the rulings point to Waymo's "ever-shrinking case." [...] Waymo said in an emailed statement its inspections of Uber's devices, photos and digital drawings show Uber is using Waymo's trade secrets and copied its LiDAR designs "down to the micron."

Also at Recode and Ars Technica.

Previously: Waymo Drops Three of Four Patent Claims Against Uber
Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released
Waymo v. Uber Continues, Will Not Move to Arbitration
Alphabet Seeking $2.6 Billion in Damages From Uber

Related: Alphabet Leads $1 Billion Round of Investment in Lyft

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14 2017, @09:54PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14 2017, @09:54PM (#568102)

    Was it not in their clickwrap agreement?