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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday November 29 2017, @12:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-to-tick-off-a-judge dept.

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

Related Stories

Waymo v. Uber Continues, Will Not Move to Arbitration 1 comment

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

Alphabet Seeking $2.6 Billion in Damages From Uber 3 comments

Google parent company Alphabet is seeking at least $2.6 billion from Uber for allegedly stealing self-driving car trade secrets from Waymo:

Alphabet thinks Uber should pay $2.6 billion for allegedly stealing a single trade secret.

Alphabet is in court with Uber today to convince a judge to delay the Oct. 10 trial in its self-driving lawsuit against the ride-hail company. But during the hearing, an Uber attorney said that Alphabet is seeking $2.6 billion in damages for just one of the nine trade secrets the company is claiming a former Uber executive stole.

Before today's hearing, the amount of damages Alphabet wanted a court to award them was not public and had been redacted from court filings.

In its opposition to Alphabet's request for a trial delay, Uber claims Alphabet is simply asking for a "do-over" because its allegations that an executive stole files and brought them to Uber has weakened.

Also at Reuters, Ars Technica, Engadget, The Street, MarketWatch, and TechCrunch.


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

Uber Letter Alleges Surveillance on Politicians and Competitors 3 comments

A redacted copy of the letter that caused the Waymo v. Uber trial to be delayed (again) has been released:

At first glance, the Jacobs letter [is] an incredibly detailed accounting of multiple unlawful actions by the ride-hail company. He alleges that Uber's secretive Strategic Services Group (SSG) "frequently engaged in fraud and theft, and employed third-party vendors to obtain unauthorized data or information." He also accuses Uber security officers of "hacking" and "destruction of evidence related to eavesdropping against opposition groups." And he says Uber's ex-CEO Travis Kalanick knew about a lot of it.

Another Uber employee, Nicholas Gicinto, along with SSG, conducted "virtual operations impersonating protesters, Uber partner-drivers, and taxi operators." These Uber security employees went to great lengths to hide their surveillance activities from the authorities, Jacobs says. They used computers not purchased by Uber that ran on Mi-Fi devices, so the traffic wouldn't appear on Uber's network. They also used virtual public networks and "non-attributable architecture of contracted Amazon Web Services" to further conceal their efforts, Jacobs alleges. Who were they surveilling? Jacobs says SSG's targets included "politicians, regulators, law enforcement, taxi organizations, and labor unions in, at a minimum, the US."

And then there was Uber's innocuously named Marketplace Analytics team. Jacobs says this group was responsible for "acquiring trade secrets, codebase, and competitive intelligence... from major ridesharing competitors globally." According to Jacobs, Marketplace Analytics impersonated riders and drivers on competitor platforms, hacked into competitor networks, and conducted unlawful wiretapping.

In one of the weirder sections, Jacobs alleges that Uber's surveillance team infiltrated a private event space at a hotel and spied on the executives of a rival company so they could observe, in real time, their reactions to the news that Uber had received a massive $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia. That eavesdropping was directed by ex-Uber security chief Joe Sullivan at the behest of Kalanick, Jacobs says.

Uber calls Richard "Ric" Jacobs "an extortionist", but the judge in the case disagrees.

Also at NYT and Recode.

Previously: Uber Evaded Law Enforcement With "Greyball"
Real-Life Example of Uber's Regulator-Evading Software
A Spectator Who Threw A Wrench In The Waymo/Uber Lawsuit


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 v. Uber, Day 3 14 comments

Uber is just too underhanded to play the underdog against Waymo

The most remarkable thing about Waymo v. Uber is that so many of the people following the lawsuit are essentially rooting for Google to crush a smaller firm with a lawsuit. It's a tale as old as time: a maverick upstart galls a bigger, more established competitor, and the bigger guy strikes back in the courts. It's practically an American fairy tale, and yet Uber's lawyers are hard-pressed to get this archetypal narrative to stick. Nobody sees Uber as the underdog.

For one thing, through a collision of multiple scandals, Uber has become extraordinarily unpopular, and the discovery process in this lawsuit hasn't done much to alleviate its reputation as an unethical, underhanded company. But the other part is that the supposed maverick upstart hasn't managed to get one over the complacent megacorporation.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says that Google is (and was) in the lead when it comes to self-driving cars.

Charles Verhoeven, lead attorney for Waymo, ended his questioning of Kalanick by asking him about a note that said, "Cheat codes. Find them. Use them."

When Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven took over again to interrogate him, he returned to cheat codes. "In the context of video games, you know what a cheat code is?"

"Yes," Kalanick replied. "But those codes in those games are put there on purpose by the publisher of the games and they want the players to have them. It's part of the fun of the game."

"That's just the game," he added, before Verhoeven could continue.

Verhoeven tried again, "A cheat code allows you to skip ahead, allows you to skip a level and not do the work."

"No — " Kalanick began to say, before Verhoeven quickly turned to the judge and said, "That's it, your honor." And with that, Travis Kalanick exited the courtroom.

Verhoeven was also able to play the "Greed is Good" scene from the 1987 film Wall Street for the jury because Anthony Levandowski (the engineer accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo) had sent a link to it to Kalanick.

Previously: Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released
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
Waymo v. Uber Jury Trial Begins


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29 2017, @01:00PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29 2017, @01:00PM (#602960)

    Who needs consumer protections? Poor little Uber and Wall Street have been devastated. Where is our orange knight come to save them?

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29 2017, @10:46PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29 2017, @10:46PM (#603223)

      Cheeto Benito can't touch this, it involves tech and the west coast. Being pro business here would alienate his few remaining supporters. I bet he can't go much past the Mississippi without losing a few points. Texas is OK since it is the frontline of our immigration "problem".

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday November 29 2017, @07:05PM (3 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 29 2017, @07:05PM (#603116)

    The story at Ars has more recent developments about the Uber attorney testifying.

    I hope judge Alsup sanctions Uber in a way that undoes the damage of Uber's cover up and withholding of evidence.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by edIII on Wednesday November 29 2017, @08:05PM (2 children)

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 29 2017, @08:05PM (#603137)

      In all seriousness, at some point you just need to close the company up after jailing half of the executives. Pretty much the entire time Uber talked a good game about "not being evil", and they hit all the marketing points for trust and integrity. Yet, as we see here, they have none.

      It's a company full of lying sexually harassing sociopathic executives in their own war against the powers that be and taxi cab regulations.

      This reminds of the Big Pharma company that got a pass, and I'm betting, Uber will get a pass too.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by DannyB on Wednesday November 29 2017, @08:21PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 29 2017, @08:21PM (#603147)

        Very likely that Uber will get a pass under the current administration.

        I remember when Microsoft was convicted and there was going to be a penalty. Of course, the judge partly screwed that up himself by talking to reporters prior to rendering his verdict formally. But the real waste was when the George W Bush administration came along. Asscroft said it was all 'without merit'.

        Without merit? After all that evidence? After the trial? After a verdict?

        Like Microsoft, Uber will probably go into decline. And probably much quicker.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04 2017, @02:26PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04 2017, @02:26PM (#605042)

          Like Microsoft, Uber will probably go into decline. And probably much quicker.

          That decline sure didn't stop Microsoft from mass unauthorized modifications of computer systems around the world with their Windows 10 "upgrade" tricks/scams.

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