Finance

Judge Grants Waymo's Request To Postpone Trade Secret Trial Against Uber

Judge Grants Waymo's Request To Postpone Trade Secret Trial Against Uber

Waymo filed suit in February alleging that the ride-hailing company stole crucial self-driving trade secrets.

Summary: The trade secret lawsuit between Waymo and Uber has been postponed.

"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 on Tuesday, according to the WSJ, as he granted the delay.

Alsup described the allegations in the letter as "scandalous" and lashed out at Uber's legal team for not informing him about them before he was notified by the Justice Department.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered Uber's former security manager Richard Jacobs to testify about the evidence: a sealed demand letter his lawyer sent to Uber's in-house lawyer Angela Padilla after he was forced to resign earlier this year.

Those strategies included housing sensitive, potentially incriminating information on separate servers that weren't connected to the rest of Uber, and using encrypted, self-deleting messaging technology to orchestrate their efforts.




The delay gives Waymo ― a self-driving auto business owned by Google's parent company ― time to investigate numerous bombshell allegations revealed in court Tuesday and (presumably) bolster its case.

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. Jacobs said he received instructions on secure communication from Craig Clark, who was recently dismissed from Uber for his role in covering up a data breach.

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

"It is possible that he has been bought off by Uber", Alsup said of Jacobs at one point during Tuesday's drama. The judge also called Uber's espionage team "a plumber's unit doing bad deeds". He didn't immediately set a new trial date. The case centers around former Google employee Anthony Levandowski, who allegedly stole 14,000 "highly confidential" files before leaving the company to start his own self-driving truck startup. Levendowski left his role at Waymo in January 2016 to found another self-driving auto company called Otto, which was acquired by Uber in August 2016.

In a statement defending itself, Uber pointed to Jacobs' testimony the he wasn't aware of the company stealing any of Waymo's trade secrets.

However, he did say that Uber acquired private code from an overseas competitor, and that Uber tried to identify employees at competitive companies who might leak to them.