Saturday, 24 February, 2018

Waymo accuses Uber of 'cheating,' stealing secrets

Uber, Waymo square off in tech theft trial that echoes Baidu's dispute with former executive Google spinoff calls Uber a cheater in driverless-car trial
Nellie Chapman | 07 February, 2018, 01:43

The trial has provided another look at his win-at-all-costs attitude, which has been part-blamed for the troubles Uber experienced in recent years - from sexual harassment claims to court cases about the rights of its workers, regular clashes with city regulators and issues about how the firm looked after users' data.

Levandowski, regarded as a visionary in autonomous technology, is not a defendant in the case but is on Waymo's witness list.

"They chose to win at all costs", Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven told the jury on Monday.

Uber Technologies Inc was either a cheating competitor willing to break the law to win the race to develop self-driving cars, or the victim of an unproven conspiracy theory stitched together by its main rival, Alphabet Inc's Waymo, jurors heard in opening statements of a trade secrets trial on Monday.

A Google-bred pioneer in self-driving cars and Uber's beleaguered ride-hailing service are colliding in a courtroom showdown revolving around allegations of deceit, betrayal, espionage and a high-tech heist that tore apart one-time allies.

"The answer is yes, (Levandowski) was very adamant about starting a company, and we were very adamant about hiring him", he said.

For Kalanick, avoiding the temptation to fight Waymo on every minor point will be crucial, Hueston said.

Waymo has spent nearly a year accusing Uber Technologies Inc of an unconscionable theft of its hard-won technology - and now has to deliver its proof.

Levandowski was sacked from Uber in May 2017 because the company said he refused to cooperate with Uber in the Waymo lawsuit and did not hand over information requested of him in the case.

There are a total of 99 potential witnesses between the two companies, according to court documents, including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Benchmark venture capitalist and Uber investor Bill Gurley and Alphabet executive David Drummond. There were other "interesting and plentiful exit opportunities", Dolgov added, citing Chinese search giant Baidu, ride-hailing and and carmakers.

Known for his fiery, overly aggressive approach to business, ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick seemed laid back and calm, if maybe a bit nervous while sipping on a water bottle, when he testified in a San Francisco court on Tuesday. Khosrowshahi continues to grapple with fallout from Kalanick's eight-year leadership stint, which recently included reports of a data breach that was kept secret. Waymo Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik expressed his disdain for Levandowski on Monday during court testimony. Next up will be Uber's lawyers, whose first witness will be Kalanick.

Patented information, Alsup said, is not the subject of this lawsuit. And also that they were indeed trade secrets and something an engineer couldn't figure out independently. "That's a no-no. But if you independently develop a trade secret, you can't sue them over it".

Uber argues the alleged trade secrets aren't secret at all. Waymo's attorney, Charles Verhoeven, asked him.

During a pretrial deposition past year, Kalanick said he directed Levandowski not to bring any Waymo technology to Uber, according to a transcript.

Carmody, questioning Krafcik, focused on employees who had left Google and Waymo to work for Levandowski's startup Otto, and noted that Krafcik said in an internal document that Waymo had been having "significant retention challenges".

Google's Waymo is the widely acknowledged leader in self-driving technology. "If you suggest to the jury that there is some trade secrets in that gorilla thing, I'm going to be upset with you.You've been trying to screw that into the case and it has nothing to do with any trade secrets that's in place".