California
11 May 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon
Uber-Waymo dispute referred for criminal investigation
The trade secret dispute between Uber and Alphabet subsidiary Waymo has been recommended for a criminal investigation.

District Judge William Alsup, hearing the litigation in the US District Court of the Northern District of California after Waymo accused Uber of trade secret theft and unfair competition, referred the case to for prosecution on 11 May and denied Uber’s motion to compel arbitration.

Judge Alsup said that the strength of evidence against Anthony Levandowksi, whose company Otto was bought by Uber in August 2016, was the strongest he’d seen in 42 years. In his recommendation for a criminal investigation, Judge Alsup said “the court takes no position on whether a prosecution is or is not warranted”.

When Uber bought Otto, it appointed Levandowksi, who previously worked at Waymo, as its head of self-driving technology.

Otto’s LiDAR sensor technology was one of the key reasons Uber acquired the company, according to Waymo.

But Waymo claimed that it owns the LiDAR technology and that, six weeks before his resignation, Levandowksi downloaded more than 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for various hardware systems, including LiDAR.

Levandowski has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions about the case.

Judge Alsup addressed this: “Levandowski’s assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege has obstructed and continues to obstruct both discovery and defendants’ ability to construct a complete narrative as to the fate of Waymo’s purloined files.”

With regards to the arbitration, Alsup said that Uber had attempted to “steer this case into arbitration even though they have no agreement with anyone to arbitrate the case”.

“Instead, they rely on a non-party’s employment agreements with the plaintiff, which contained an arbitration clause, and attempt to invoke ‘equitable estoppel’.”

The judge also granted Waymo a preliminary injunction against Uber, although information as to its effect has been kept confidential.

More Patents news
The latest news from IPPro The Internet
Join Our Newsletter

Sign up today and never
miss the latest news or an issue again

Subscribe now
Nokia and Apple settle new dispute
24 May 2017 | California | Reporter: Mark Dugdale
The settlement puts a stop to litigation that spanned the US and Germany and saw Apple claim in federal court that the Finnish company conspired with patent licensing companies to unlawfully extract royalties
Uber-Waymo dispute referred for criminal investigation
11 May 2017 | California | Reporter: Barney Dixon
Judge William Alsup said the evidence against Waymo was the strongest he’d seen in 42 years
AST launches IP3 2017
02 May 2017 | New Jersey | Reporter: Barney Dixon
The 2017 programme will target specific technologies, including the internet of things, content delivery systems and networking
WiLAN diversifies in wake of patent licensing challenges
20 April 2017 | Ottawa | Reporter: Mark Dugdale
WiLAN is acquiring an internet of things company for $47.4 million as it looks to diversify away from its core patent licensing business
Court tells bee trap maker to buzz off
27 March 2017 | Alabama | Reporter: Mark Dugdale
The US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued a summary judgement in favour of eBay on 20 March
Google must pay $20 million for Chrome infringement
15 February 2017 | Texas | Reporter: Barney Dixon
Google must pay $20 million in damages for infringement of four patents related to anti-malware
Trading tech patents upheld under Alice
19 January 2017 | Illinois | Reporter: Barney Dixon
Trading Technologies International’s electronic trading patents have been upheld under the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v CLS Bank...