Mar 15, 2017

Uber Self-Drives Into Patent Trouble With Google

Uber, the online transportation network which has recently been in the news for losing an employment rights case, has found itself in the middle of yet another legal dispute this time with technology heavyweights, Google.

Alphabet Inc, the multinational conglomerate and parent company to Google, boast a portfolio of several subsidiaries in a number of industries including technology and research.  Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has previously commenced legal proceedings against Uber Technologies Inc for the alleged theft of trade secrets. It has this week added a patent infringement claim to that ongoing litigation.

Waymo are a technology based company who are currently at the forefront of developing the autonomous car, known otherwise as the self-driving car. The technology they are developing is considered as the future of transportation. Last month, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber accusing the transportation giant of stealing trade secrets and elements of their technology.

The allegations arose after former Google executive and engineer, Anthony Levandowski, left the company to start up his own self driving car project called 'Otto'. Six months later, Mr Levandowski, sold his company to Uber for an astonishing $680 million.  Waymo are now accusing the former employee of downloading 14,000 files containing confidential information and important technological material and subsequently conspiring with Uber.  In addition to this, Waymo are claiming that a number of other ex-Google employees who left to join Mr Levandowski at Otto have also downloaded sensitive material before leaving.

Waymo, who have patented their technological advances in regards to the self driving car, have applied for a preliminary injunction against Uber, preventing Uber from using the information Waymo say they have unfairly acquired. In their filing they stated that, "Otto and Uber have taken Waymo's intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time, and expense of independently developing their own technology". The technology that forms the subject of the patent claim is known as the 'Lidar' system which is range sensing technology that uses light beams to map out streets and environments.

Uber have yet to comment on the allegations but it will be interesting to see how the battle between the two transportation giants will play out. It promises to be a titanic struggle which is likely to drag on.

in: News, Patents

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