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Uber tries to drive stake in heart of Waymo robocar case
[SAN FRNACISCO] Uber Technologies Inc said it didn't know about the alleged theft of proprietary information from Alphabet Inc's autonomous driving unit by an executive until Waymo filed a lawsuit in February. The ride-hailing company is seeking to refute Waymo's claim that Uber conspired with Anthony Levandowski to download 14,000 files and steal trade secrets before he left Waymo in January 2016.
"Prior to the filing of this lawsuit, no one at Uber knew that Levandowski had downloaded any Google proprietary information for any improper purpose or that he had deliberately taken any Google proprietary information with him when he left Google," according to Uber's filing Wednesday in San Francisco federal court.
Waymo alleges that in 2015, Mr Levandowski and Uber Technologies Inc hatched a plan for him to steal thousands of proprietary files, including the designs for lidar technology that help driverless cars see their surroundings. Uber, which acquired Mr Levandowski's startup, Otto, in August for US$680 million, has denied Waymo's allegations.
Uber told US District Judge William Alsup in Wednesday's filing that it searched its own servers in vain for Waymo's files and noted that it has allowed Waymo to conduct 55 hours of inspections of its computers, facilities and emails. Alsup said in a May 11 ruling that Waymo made a "compelling" showing that Mr Levandowski absconded with its files and that Uber "knew or should have known" the engineer took the information when it brought him aboard.
Waymo, in its own filing, stood by its claim of collusion between Uber and Mr Levandowski.
"While discovery is not complete, the evidence to date indicates that Uber and Anthony Levandowski were in league with one another to port Waymo's trade secrets to Uber going as far back as May 2015," the company said. "Rather than do the right thing, Uber took part in a coverup, only firing Mr Levandowski after their actions were exposed in litigation," Waymo said later in a statement.
Wednesday's filings address the judge's order that the companies summarize evidence they intend to present to a jury when the case goes to a trial set for October. The dueling narratives reveal sharp disagreement over the significance of a March 2016 conversation when Mr Levandowski told Uber's then-Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick that he possessed some discs containing Google information.
Waymo says it's proof that Uber knew - almost a year before the trade-secrets suit was filed - that the engineer had downloaded proprietary information.
But Uber depicts the event much more innocently. It says Mr Levandowski found the five discs in his home, from the time he worked at Google, and later that same day, on March 11, 2016, reported to Uber that he destroyed them. Mr Levandowski didn't say or suggest to Mr Kalanick that he downloaded the information "for any improper purpose or that he had deliberately taken any Google proprietary information," according to the filing.