Waymo lawsuit takes ugly turn for Uber

Uber’s lawyers can’t be trusted, an angry federal judge said Nov. 28 as he lambasted the ride-hailing giant for withholding from him a document full of explosive allegations amid proceedings for Waymo’s trade-secrets lawsuit against Uber, new reports said.

“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,” Judge William Alsup said, according to the New York Times.

The document was a heavily redacted letter from lawyers for Uber’s former global-intelligence manager Richard Jacobs, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

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An Uber spokeswoman said Tuesday, “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.”

Read out in court, the letter said Jacobs knew that Uber had a team whose job was to “steal trade secrets at least from Waymo in the United States,” according to the Nov. 28 report from the newspaper, which described Alsup as “visibly angry” during the hearing.

However, Jacobs, testifying Nov. 28 on Alsup’s orders, said he didn’t stand by that statement in the 37-page letter, which he said he’d signed in a rush without seeing that bit.

Google’s self-driving-car spinoff 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.

Uber denies the claims and says it hasn’t used any Waymo technology.

Jacobs testified that he didn’t believe his work for Uber’s secretive former Strategic Services Group was “patently illegal.” But, he said, he had “questions about the ethics of it” and “it felt overly aggressive and invasive,” Bloomberg reported Nov. 28.

The judge also brought up “a hidden system of messaging at Uber” that he said was potentially criminal, according to Bloomberg.

“He described an ‘invisible system, not part of the regular server system’ that deletes messages almost instantaneously, after a small delay,” Bloomberg reported.

Alsup granted Waymo’s request to delay the start of the trial, for which jury selection had been scheduled to begin Nov. 29. Waymo argued that it needed more time because Uber had hidden the letter.

“If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial,” Alsup said, according to the New York Times.

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: The new trial date will be included here once it becomes available.

 

Photo: John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, the autonomous vehicle company created by Google parent company Alphabet, introduces a Chrysler Pacifica hybrid outfitted with Waymo’s own suite of sensors and radar at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Sancya/AP)

 

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