Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

Judge orders Uber not to use technology taken from Waymo

Judge Alsup added that the evidence shows that "Uber likely knew or at least should have known that Levandowski has taken and retained possession of Waymo's confidential files".

Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., said it welcomed the order stopping Uber from using "stolen documents containing trade secrets developed by Waymo through years of research".

Alsup wrote that Waymo "has made a strong showing that Levandowski absconded with over 14,000 files" from the company when he left past year to form his own startup, Otto LLC, that was then acquired by Uber. The judge also ordered Uber to do what it could to ensure the return of the files to Waymo, including the possibility of terminating Levandowski's employment at Uber.

Waymo has alleged in its lawsuit that Levandowski and Uber conspired to create a sham self-driving truck startup called Otto as a prelude to a $680-million deal for Uber to buy Otto and get the desperately needed technology.

Uber said in a statement Monday that it's pleased the court allowed it to continue self-driving auto research, including its own Lidar innovations.

"Lyft's vision and commitment to improving the way cities move will help Waymo's self-driving technology reach more people, in more places", a Waymo spokesperson said. After applying to be a part of the program online, approved applicants will be shuttled around town in a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan outfitted with Waymo's autonomous drive system.

Uber must return the documents either to Waymo or the court by the end of this month.

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He also warns that "even a limited injunction would impose hardship on Uber's overall LiDAR development that is disproportionate to Waymo's limited showing of misappropriation by defendants thus far". Alsup had also referred the case to the USA attorney's office for possible theft of trade secrets, raising the possibility of criminal charges for those involved if the Department of Justice decides to take up the case.

Uber has denied that it has utilized any of the allegedly stolen files, and Levandowski has since stepped aside from running the start-up's autonomous driving division while the case proceeds.

For instance, you really wouldn't want your chief competitor (who has been picking up key allies lately) to run into the company that is now suing you for stealing their IP via a poached executive (and using it to hasten the solving of your self-driving vehicle existential crisis) and start chatting your rank suckiness and what they can do together in the revenge department. Waymo has also sufficiently shown, for purposes of the instant motion only, that the 14,000-plus purloined files likely contain at least some trade secrets, and that some provisional relief is warranted while this case progresses toward trial.

This is just one of many deals between tech and vehicle companies in this arms race that has exploded in Silicon Valley over the last few years. While it's annoying that Waymo has final say as to who is allowed into the program, a police motorcade is not mentioned in any of the fine print.

While Alsup's order is the third blow to Uber in the week, it is by far the lightest.

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