Published: Mon, February 27, 2017
Health Care | By Kelly Miles

Uber calls Waymo's lawsuit 'baseless' - Roadshow

Uber calls Waymo's lawsuit 'baseless' - Roadshow

Google's self-driving vehicle company Waymo has filed a lawsuit against global ride-hailing app Uber for allegedly stealing trade secrets and technology from it. The makings of a geek Robert Ludlum novel.

It did so by acquiring a startup called Otto that was co-founded by a former Waymo staffer named Anthony Levandowski.

"We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully,"' Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler said in an email. The ex-employee was later hired by Uber when the company purchased Levandowski's self-driving trucking company.

Uber acquired self-driving startup Otto previous year for $680 million.

Filing its lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco, Waymo alleged that Uber is using a stolen technology in its self-driving cars.

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Waymo's lawsuit seeks damages from Uber, along with an injunction against the company, stopping it from unfair competitive practices. Google's venture capital arm, Google Ventures, has poured in over $200 million into Uber over the years.

"We discovered that other former Waymo employees, now at Otto and Uber, downloaded additional highly confidential information pertaining to our custom-built LiDAR, including supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information", the company said. Attached to the email were said to be machine drawings of Otto's LiDAR circuit board. This includes Uber's LiDAR system that Waymo described to have a "striking resemblance" to what the Google-owned company has in its own backyard.

Waymo, which is an Alphabet subsidiary, spent more than six years developing its own LiDAR system. Waymo said stealing that is like "stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company".

Levandowski copied the data to an external drive. "Mr. Levandowski then wiped and reformatted the laptop in an attempt to erase forensic fingerprints".

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