Uber-Waymo Trial Delayed Again Following Allegations of Rogue Conduct at Uber

29 November, 2017, 01:10 | Author: Franklin Nunez
  • REUTERS  Kim Kyung-Hoon  File

The 37-page letter, obtained by the Justice Department during an investigation into possible corporate espionage by Uber and sent to Alsup on November 22, revealed Uber had set up a secret intelligence team to steal trade secrets from Waymo and unnamed competitors overseas.

Former Uber employee and whistleblower Richard Jacobs testified today that Uber's marketplace analytics team was tasked with unearthing information about competitors, including trade secrets and code, according to Gizmodo. But over Thanksgiving weekend, the U.S. Attorney sent additional evidence to Alsup, who had previously referred the case there for possible criminal investigation.

"We're going to have to put the trial off because if even half of what's in that letter is true it would be a huge injustice to force Waymo to go to trial", Alsup said at a Tuesday hearing.

Waymo said that it had learned about the letter last week from the Department of Justice, according to MSNBC. 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.

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Alsup voiced his own concern over what he called potentially criminal conduct involving a hidden system of messaging at Uber. Jacobs said he settled with Uber in August over his termination for $4.5 million.

Jacobs is said to claimed that his unit was told not to "create a paper trail that could come back to haunt Uber" - although where and how Jacobs made that claim is unclear since all the documents are under seal and neither the judge nor Waymo lawyer referenced where the information had come from. According to Law360, a California judge ruled in Waymo's favor on Tuesday after Waymo accused Uber of hiding evidence that was discovered by federal prosecutors.

It was the second time the judge has agreed to delay a trial at Waymo's request.

The company also relied on a surreptitious computer system to eliminate all digital trails, and dispatched its security team to train self-driving vehicle engineers in Pittsburgh how to hide their electronic tracks, Jacobs testified.

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Waymo filed its lawsuit against Uber in February.

Uber countered in its own brief that Waymo had known about the destruction of Google disks since June but hadn't objected until its case "fell apart" following its failure to uncover trade-secret theft by Uber in a hotly contested due-diligence report. "And there is a 50-50 chance that this will turn out to be a dry hole". He didn't immediately set a new trial date. The Google spinoff claims Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files of trade secrets before resigning in January 2016 to start Ottomotto, and that Uber quickly struck a deal to buy the company and hire him to build autonomous vehicles using Waymo's technology.

Uber identified employees at rival companies it believed it could flip in pursuit of competitors' secrets.

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