Judge refers theft allegations against Uber to US Attorney

Judge refers theft allegations against Uber to US Attorney

Judge refers theft allegations against Uber to US Attorney

Judge Alsop also ruled late on Thursday on Waymo's request for a preliminary injunction against Uber, an action that could seriously dent its driverless vehicle effort, though the decision remained under seal while it was determined whether some parts of the order should be redacted.

According to Waymo, Levandowski used the stolen technology to entice Uber into buying his self-driving truck startup Otto for $680 million six months after it launched in 2016.

Uber buys Otto, acquiring Levandowski in the process.

Before we go on: A refresher on all the names and companies involved.

Earlier Thursday, Alsup also issued two rulings that work against Uber.

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Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo executive, allegedly downloaded the documents to kick-start his own business, 280 Systems, which later became Otto. "We don't have any basis for disputing that", Uber's attorney Arturo Gonzalez said in court last week, adding that "there's no evidence" Levandowski consulted the Waymo files once he began working at Uber.

The case of Waymo versus Uber - already a complicated matter involving trade secrets, preexisting arbitration agreements, and whether a laser range finding device (known as LiDAR) had been smuggled wholesale out of Waymo - just got even more complicated.

Uber also allegedly infringed Waymo's patents, USA numbers 8,836,922; 9,368,936; 9,285,464; and 9,086,273, all of which concern LiDAR technology.

A US judge on Thursday called for an investigation into allegations of trade secret theft that were raised in a court battle between Silicon Valley giants Uber and Alphabet over their rival self-driving auto programs.

"It is unfortunate that Waymo will be permitted to avoid abiding by the arbitration promise it requires its employees to make".

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Waymo, Google's autonomous auto company, sued Uber earlier this year claiming that its former self-driving vehicle expert - Anthony Levandowski - had stolen 14,000 files related to Google's proprietary LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology before starting a company, Otto, which Uber bought last summer for $670 million US.

"We remain confident in our case and welcome the chance to talk about our independently developed technology any forum".

Uber won't be allowed to move the trade secrets lawsuit brought by Waymo into arbitration, a federal judge ruled (PDF) late Wednesday.

The claims in Waymo's lawsuit "never reference" Levandowski's employment contract, the company's lawyer, Charles Verhoeven, told the judge at the hearing.

Asked whether Waymo has communicated with the Justice Department about the prospect of or existence of a criminal investigation, a spokesman declined to comment. "These accusations are unwarranted", Alsup wrote. So as Uber and Waymo battle over what will doubtless be one of the most important technological developments of the next decade, it's worth taking a look at how the company ticked off the judge presiding over the fight.

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