Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Cory Rios

Waymo, Uber end trade secrets theft trial with settlement

Waymo, Uber end trade secrets theft trial with settlement

Waymo's lawsuit said that one of the company's former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files containing designs for autonomous vehicles in December 2015 before he went on to work at Uber in 2016, leading the ride-hailing firm's self-driving auto unit.

The settlement was announced on Friday just before the fifth day of testimony was about to begin at a jury trial in San Francisco federal court.

Khosrowshahi went on to say that "while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo's proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work".

Under the surprise deal, the ride-hailing service will pay Waymo, which is part of Alphabet Inc., a stock settlement valued by Waymo at $245 million.

In a statement released Friday, Waymo - which had accused Uber of stealing numerous trade secrets that were embedded in Waymo's self-driving vehicle technology - said it believes the binding agreement will protect its intellectual property in the future.

Waymo alleged that Levandowski heisted its technology and took it to Uber via a startup he founded and which Uber purchased a few months later for $680 million.

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The payment, to be made in Uber's stock, is a fraction of the almost $2 billion in damages that a Waymo expert had estimated Uber's alleged theft had caused. Uber denied using any Google technology to build a fleet of self-driving cars.

Mr. Khosrowshahi worked to coax 's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and to let them know that Uber had turned over a new leaf, according to two people briefed on the situation, who asked not to be identified because the details were confidential.

"As Uber's statement indicates, no trade secrets ever came to Uber", the statement said. The settlement also covers more than 100 other trade secrets that Waymo alleges Levandowski stole. The judge in the case didn't allow that figure into the trial.

But the settlement at least removes a dark cloud that Uber didn't want looming when it offers its stock to the public - something its current CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, plans to pursue next year.

Kalanick was pressured by investors to step down as CEO previous year, partly because of concerns about Waymo's lawsuit.

A spokesman for Waymo said the company "reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo's intellectual property now and into the future". "He sort of was a little angsty and said, 'Why are you doing my thing?'" Kalanick recalled. "Our sole objective was to hire the most talented scientists and engineers to help lead the company and our cities to a driverless future". "The evidence at trial overwhelmingly proved that, and had the trial proceeded to its conclusion, it is clear Uber would have prevailed", the statement said.

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