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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday February 08 2018, @02:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the laser-is-the-sauce dept.

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

Related Stories

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

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 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

A Spectator Who Threw A Wrench In The Waymo/Uber Lawsuit 9 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

After a three-year battle in which he spent up to $1000 an hour on lawyers, Swildens ended up selling Speedera at a discount to Akamai for $130 million.

The experience left Swildens with a working knowledge of intellectual property battles in the tech world, and a lingering soft spot for others facing hefty patent claims. So when he heard in February that the world's second-most valuable company, Alphabet, was launching a legal broadside at Uber's self-driving car technology, he put himself in then-CEO Travis Kalanick's shoes: "I saw a larger competitor attacking a smaller competitor...and became curious about the patents involved."

In its most dramatic allegations, Waymo is accusing engineer Anthony Levandowski of taking over 14,000 technical confidential files to Uber. But the company also claimed that Uber's laser-ranging lidar devices infringed four of Waymo's patents.

"Waymo developed its patented inventions...at great expense, and through years of painstaking research, experimentation, and trial and error," the complaint read. "If [Uber is] not enjoined from their infringement and misappropriation, they will cause severe and irreparable harm to Waymo."

But Swildens had a suspicion. He dug into the history of Waymo's lidars, and came to the conclusion that Waymo's key patent should never have been granted at all. He asked the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to look into its validity, and in early September, the USPTO granted that request. Days later, Waymo abruptly dismissed its patent claim without explanation. The USPTO examiners may still invalidate that patent, and if that happens, Waymo could find itself embroiled in another multi-billion-dollar self-driving car lawsuit—this time as a defendant.


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

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Revek on Thursday February 08 2018, @02:45PM (13 children)

    by Revek (5022) on Thursday February 08 2018, @02:45PM (#634932)

    At least google started out with a don't be evil philosophy. Uber started out doing underhanded deeds by default.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday February 08 2018, @03:52PM (6 children)

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday February 08 2018, @03:52PM (#634964) Journal

      Uber is a hero of capitalism, gallantly piercing through the layers of bureaucratic red tape and flaunting regulations at every turn.

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      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:13PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:13PM (#635032)

        really I am thinking fuck them *both*. i aint rooting for either of them

        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:24PM (3 children)

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:24PM (#635045)

          It's too bad there isn't any easy and likely way in most competitions involving 2 participants, for both sides to lose.

          I wish this every time I see or hear about some stupid sports game, and I wish it here with Google vs. Uber. How exactly do you "root against" both teams?

          Personally, I'd like to see both Waymo and Uber lose out really big, and go out of business, and then for Lyft to continue as it is, and for two new competitors to Lyft to arise. Things always seem to work out better when there's at least 3 stable and comparable competitors in a market.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:36PM (2 children)

            by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:36PM (#635055) Journal

            If Google doesn't win a substantial cash reward from Uber, then both companies still wasted a lot of money on lawyers, and Uber's reputation has still been dragged through the mud. Or possibly you could call it Kalanick's reputation, since a lot of what came out pre-trial and is coming out now is very specific to how he operated the company.

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            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:07PM

              by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:07PM (#635074)

              Yeah, but both these companies are large enough (esp. Google) that wasting a lot of money on lawyers isn't going to affect them much (and these companies are large enough to have lawyers on staff anyway), and Kalanick's reputation is already mud and can't get any worse I think. It's like Larry Nassar: if more allegations came out against him at this point, would it make his reputation any worse?

            • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Thursday February 08 2018, @11:41PM

              by realDonaldTrump (6614) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 08 2018, @11:41PM (#635284) Homepage Journal

              3 things I've never regretted spending money on: good lawyers, good cheeseburgers, and sexy ladies.

              --
              #FreeDonaldTrump [twitter.com]
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:46PM

        by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:46PM (#635060)

        If by hero, you mean creating more wage slaves, then yes. That's all Uber ever did, and in order to get away from the regulations regarding employees, they sold a ton of lies to the suckers that would work for them.

        I'd be easier on Uber if all they were was an outsourced management company for private drivers trying to get fares, but Uber dictated the pricing. Once Uber is dictating the pricing, those private drivers become wage slaves, Uber is beholden to employment laws. Their claims about empowering people to work for themselves are utter bullshit.

        I'm for the complete utter destruction of Uber myself.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:09PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 08 2018, @05:09PM (#635028)

      Well, Uber was a difficult birth. From day one they had to skirt taxi regulations to provide their service (which a lot of people like). If Uber were not so cavalier about following rules, they wouldn't exist, and people would be stuck with the lame taxi services of the past.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:03PM (3 children)

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:03PM (#635072)

        Lyft has managed to do pretty well, without having all the nasty scandals and other ugliness that Uber has.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:10PM (2 children)

          by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:10PM (#635078) Journal

          My in-depth investigation has found that Uber was founded over 3 years before Lyft [wikipedia.org] and was already facing problems with regulators [wikipedia.org] during that time.

          Lyft has also faced regulatory opposition [wikipedia.org], although I don't recall their actions being as brazen as some of Uber's. Then when you factor in Greyball and other incidents, Uber just looks plain worse.

          Here are two incidents I'd never heard of:

          Uber issued an apology on January 24, 2014, after documents were leaked to the Valleywag and TechCrunch publications saying that, earlier in the month, Uber employees in New York City deliberately ordered rides from Gett, a newly established competitor, only to cancel them later. The purpose of the fake orders was two-fold: wasting drivers' time to obstruct legitimate customers from securing a car, and offering drivers incentives — including cash — to join Uber. Uber later issued a statement about the incident on its website.

          [...] In August 2014, the online publication The Verge reported that a secret Uber project, called "Operation SLOG" – which recruits members with the assistance of TargetCW, a San Diego, California-based employment agency – appeared to be an extension of the company's activities in relation to Lyft. As reported, on July 9, 2014, following Lyft's expansion into New York City, Uber sent an email offering what it called a "huge commission opportunity" to several contractors based on the "personal hustle" of the participants. Those who responded met with Uber marketing managers who attempted, according to one of the contractors, to create a "street team" to gather intelligence about Lyft's launch plans and recruit their drivers to Uber. Recruits were given two Uber-branded iPhones (one a backup, in case the person was identified by Lyft) and a series of valid credit card numbers to create dummy Lyft accounts. After being contacted for comment, Target CW warned its contractors against talking to the media, stating that it represented a violation of a non-disclosure agreement they signed.

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          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:45PM (1 child)

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday February 08 2018, @06:45PM (#635110)

            Yep, it's shit like this why I always use Lyft when I need a ride (like in another city). Uber's tactics have been horribly anti-competitive and just plain dirty.

            • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Thursday February 08 2018, @07:54PM

              by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday February 08 2018, @07:54PM (#635160)

              Plus they made this video [youtube.com], which makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you watch it.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PartTimeZombie on Thursday February 08 2018, @09:27PM

        by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Thursday February 08 2018, @09:27PM (#635212)

        stuck with the lame taxi services of the past

        Except that where I live taxi services are really good, so the only advantage Uber has is to exploit someone.

        If they can't exploit the customer (through monopoly pricing) they have to exploit the workers.

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