Alphabet’s Waymo demanded $1bn in damages from Uber

12 Oct 2017

Waymo minivan. Image: Waymo

Waymo and Uber have been locked in a legal battle since earlier this year, and insider details have emerged.

The Uber-Waymo fight is continuing, and things are getting tense.

Alphabet-owned Waymo sued Uber in February over a claim that Anthony Levandowski – a former Waymo employee – downloaded files before setting up his own self-driving truck firm, Otto, which Uber then acquired.

Denial of theft

Uber denies any theft of trade secrets from Waymo, responding to the charge by calling it a “baseless attempt to slow down a competitor”. Levandowski was fired later by Uber when he would not return Waymo documents, citing his right against self-incrimination.

Waymo also asked for an independent monitor to be created to ensure Uber did not use its technology in future projects, as well as a $1bn payout and a public apology. Anonymous sources told Reuters that these terms were rejected outright by Uber’s legal team.

New evidence to be examined

Waymo persuaded a San Francisco judge to delay a trial until November, citing the need to look into new evidence given over by Uber.

A report from the ride-sharing company emerged earlier this month, commissioned from cybersecurity firm Stroz Friedberg as part of Uber’s due diligence before the acquisition of Otto. Stroz Friedberg was asked to investigate whether or not Levandowski took confidential information from Google or breached its non-compete clauses.

TechCrunch reported that investigators reviewed more than 100,000 documents, 74,000 pictures and 176,000 source code files for the report, which showed that Levandowski accessed Google files even after he left the company, but didn’t explain what he did with them.

No further settlement talks are on the cards, and it seems the companies will enter into mediation.

More trouble for Uber

Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice is investigating Uber’s business practices in other areas, according to The Verge.

Authorities are examining accusations of criminal bribery, the Greyball software scandal, alleged breaking of anti-pricing discrimination law and the use of a software named ‘Hell’ to track Lyft drivers.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects