Published: Sat, April 08, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Uber fires back at Google spinoff in self-driving car case

Uber fires back at Google spinoff in self-driving car case

Needless to say, things are getting a bit interesting between Waymo and Uber, especially since Waymo's parent company Alphabet is an investor in Uber through their Google Venture company.

Uber responded to Waymo's lawsuit over self-driving cars.

Uber came out swinging in court with opposition papers that seek to gut Waymo's claims that Uber's self-driving vehicle business rests on stolen trade secrets. Levandowski leads Uber's self-driving program. "And no wonder - Uber's LiDAR was developed by a different team, using a different beam pattern, and leveraging different know-how".

Otto, which was founded by former Google auto and map veterans Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron, was acquired by Uber in August 2016 for $680 million.

Waymo filed suit against Uber in February, claiming that a former manager, Anthony Levandowski, stole its patented ideas. Waymo claims those files contained information about its proprietary LiDAR sensors. The email included attached machine drawings of an Uber LiDAR circuit board. Waymo also amended its original lawsuit, adding a new patent infringement claim.

Uber now has dozens of driverless vehicles - Volvo XC90 SUVs equipped with LIDAR sensors, cameras, and other autonomous tech - picking up passengers in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona, (and perhaps San Francisco soon enough).

The company dismissed Uber's assertion that none of the files were on its servers by pointing out that the firm's search had not been able to include the computer belonging to the man at the centre of the controversy, Mr Levandowski.

Uber also stated that there was not justification for the injunction since there was no urgency from Waymo at the moment of filing the motion.

"If Waymo genuinely thought that Uber was using its secrets, it would not have waited more than five months to seek an injunction", she said in a statement. "Waymo doesn't meet the high bar for an injunction, which would stifle independent innovation and competition". However, Uber has stated that its lidar is considerably different when compared to Waymo's since Uber's is composed of four distinct light detection lenses and the "stolen" one only has one lens. Uber bought the startup, Otto, last year.

Uber began developing its LiDAR design before it hired Levandowski. "Ultimately, that would be harmful to the public".

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Waymo says it's "disingenuous" for Uber to say it's never touched the 14,000 files since it's not looking into the computers and devices of the head of its self-driving program.

Waymo countered that it has "clear evidence" that Uber is using, or plans to use, stolen trade secrets to develop in-house LiDAR tech.

Waymo said that its suspicion that Levandowski and other former employees had taken secrets about its LiDAR system were confirmed in December when a third-party vendor mistakenly emailed Waymo designs for a LiDAR circuit board being used by Uber.

Uber may have its work cut out to sway Alsup, who has said in previous court hearings that Waymo has presented some of the strongest evidence he has seen in his judicial career.

"If you can not find them in your files there is going to be a preliminary injunction".

"It can't be helped".

"You are hiding from me what the real facts are".

Uber has not provided a rebuttal to the allegations that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files. But so far, you haven't denied it. The company has been hampered there by Levandowski's assertion of the fifth amendment. Or how can he take the Fifth Amendment?

He added: "This is an extraordinary case". So you are up against it.

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