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
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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
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.
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