As the self-driving car technology sector picks up pace, companies from all around the globe are investing loads of money for developing the best technology. However, not everyone is putting in genuine efforts for developing the technology by fair means, if the allegations made by Google are to be believed.
Why Google Filed A Lawsuit Against Uber?
Back in February, Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving arm, filed a lawsuit against Otto, a self-driving-truck startup, bought by Uber and co-founded by an ex-Googler, Anthony Levandowski. As per the lawsuit, Levandowski is being accused of sharing the Waymo’s proprietary sensor technology with Uber.
“Through discovery, we’ve learned that Uber and Levandowski created a cover-up scheme for what they were doing. They concocted a story for public consumption,” said Charles Verhoeven, Waymo’s lawyer.
In plain words, according to Waymo’s arguments, Levandowski and Uber plotted to create a shell company, Otto, based on Waymo’s self-driving tech. So when Uber acquires Otto, which was meant to be, it would have Waymo’s proprietary technology at its disposal.
“There was this clandestine plan all along that Uber and Levandowski had a deal,” Verhoeven added.
To prove its case, Waymo produced a document in court showing that Levandowski was awarded about 5 million shares of Uber effective January 28, 2016, just one day after he left Google. Several months after this incidence later his startup, Otto, was acquired by Uber for more than half a billion dollars.
Waymo’s lawyers also accused Levandowski of downloading 9.7 GBs of data from company’s servers onto his company laptop before his exit. Later he transferred that data to an external hard drive and formatted the laptop’s hard drive for clearing all the traces.
Waymo’s lawyers could not prove if Uber already knew that Levandowski had taken Waymo’s intellectual property with him.
What Uber Said?
Uber dismissed all these allegations and explained that they backdated the stock units to Levandowski in order to credit him for the time he spent at Otto, before its acquisition by Uber.
Uber is withholding more than 3000 documents that can help Waymo with its arguments, but Uber lawyers argued that they had a right to assert privilege on those documents.
“We’re not hiding anything. The privilege we are claiming is a legitimate privilege,” said Arturo Gonzalez, Uber’s lawyer.
According to some reporters, Uber is not even trying to come out as innocent or prove that they did not know anything about Levandowski stealing data from Waymo. In fact, they are taking a position that there is no evidence to prove that Levandowski brought any such files to Uber.
If Uber is found guilty of stealing Waymo’s proprietary technology, then it will be forced to stop using its current self-driving technology. This would mean not only economic loss, but also a reputational loss to Uber.