Uber hid document, Waymo alleges, start of trial delayed

Google self-driving-car spinoff Waymo is accusing rival Uber of a dirty legal trick, claiming the ride-sharing giant hid a document as the two wage battle in court over Uber’s alleged theft of Waymo trade secrets.

The dispute led a federal court judge on Nov. 28 to postpone the start of the trial, for which jury selection had been scheduled to begin Nov. 29.

The two tech titans have been in court since Waymo sued Uber in February, alleging a former Waymo executive stole trade secrets and brought them to Uber, which allegedly used them for its own self-driving-car program.

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Uber denies that it has used Waymo technology.

Events leading to the trial postponement, according to a court document, began Nov. 22, when a federal prosecutor told the court about a letter related to the work of former Uber security analyst Richard Jacobs that hadn’t been introduced into the case.

Jacobs worked in Uber’s secretive Strategic Services Group, which “conducted real-world surveillance on Uber employees and competitors,” according to Bloomberg.

Court documents related to the letter are heavily redacted, but a Northern California U.S. District Court judge in the case revealed that it refers, at least in part, to devices held by Uber.

Uber, Judge William Alsup wrote in a Nov. 23 order, “shall advise the Court and counsel of the precise extent to which the information provided by Richard Jacobs is accurate (not just whether he said it but also whether it was actually true), the precise extent to which said information has been previously supplied to plaintiff Waymo LLC in discovery, and the precise extent to which the devices referred to by Jacobs have been searched by Uber for responsive materials in discovery.”

Alsup also ordered that Jacobs testify in the case.

After his testimony Nov. 28, an Uber spokeswoman said, “None of the testimony today changes the merits of the case. Jacobs himself said on the stand today that he was not aware of any Waymo trade secrets being stolen.”

The trial postponement is the second to occur — it was originally set to start Oct. 10, but the court agreed to give Waymo more time to analyze a report commissioned by Uber about its hiring of Anthony Levandowski, the executive alleged to have downloaded 14,000 confidential documents from Waymo before he left the company and joined Uber.

An Uber spokeswoman said the firm had been “waiting for its day in court for some time now.

“We’re keen to have a jury finally hear this case on its merits.”

Check back for the new trial date, which will be included here after it’s set.

 

Photo: A self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan from Google spin-off Waymo (courtesy of Waymo)

 

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