May 26, 2017

Uber Auto Drives Into Costly Google Dispute

In March, we reported on a new legal dispute between Waymo, a subsidiary of Google's parent company - Alphabet Inc, and Uber. The dispute arose after Waymo accused Uber of stealing their trade secrets and infringing their patents regarding the technology involved in the self-driving car. Waymo filed their lawsuit against Uber after they learnt that a former Google executive and engineer, Anthony Levandowski, who had left the company to start up his own business, later sold that business to Uber.

The technology that forms the subject of the lawsuit is known as the 'Lidar' system which is range sensing technology that uses light beams to map out streets and environments. The technology is considered as the future of transportation.

The full article can be read here.

Last week, the University of Pennsylvania reported that the case was heard by Federal Judge William Alsup of the US District Court. At the hearing the Judge ordered Levandowski to turn over the 14,000 documents he allegedly took with him when leaving Waymo as well as granting an injunction to prevent Uber from using the know how they acquired when they bought Mr Levandowski's business.

Not only this but the judge referred the case for a federal criminal investigation. According to The Verge, there are now reports that Mr Levandowski's company was merely a 'shell company' whose sole purpose was to be bought by Uber. Waymo's lawyers invited the court to consider this argument at the hearing, in which they claim that the deal between Uber and Levandowski was actually negotiated while Levandowski still worked for Google.

Lawyers for Uber tried to convince the court that the case is best dealt with via arbitration and not through a public trial. According to Forbes, Uber have tried to argue that the case involves a violation of Mr Levandowski's contract and therefore the matter can be resolved through private arbitration

Uber are denying that they are using the know-how and the files taken by Mr Levandowski, prior to his departure at Google, to develop their autonomous car system but will have to convince a judge of the same. The two companies are at the forefront of the race to develop the world's first self-driving car but this lengthy lawsuit is likely to greatly impact who wins the race. Not only this but if Google are able to prove that Uber is in fact using the stolen technology then Uber's future may well be on the line.

in: EU/International, Patents

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