Alphabet's Waymo is requesting for a preliminary injunction to keep Uber from pushing through with its self-driving car plans and thus stop the ride-hailing service from using allegedly stolen secrets.
This move follows the lawsuit Waymo filed back in February against Otto, a self-driving truck startup, and Uber, the startup's parent company. The case argues that the defending party has stolen more than 14,000 confidential documents, including info for LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging.
However, Uber rebuffed the accusations at the time, calling them "baseless," according to Business Insider.
Waymo's Request To The Court
In court, Waymo security engineer Gary Brown testified, and he pointed out that based on Google network logs, Otto cofounder Anthony Levandowski, who was formerly a Google software engineer, downloaded secret files related to Waymo's self-driving car project, including but not limited to schematics and blueprints.
The stolen data reportedly amounts to a total of 9.7 GB.
More than that, Brown embroiled Radu Raduta and Sameer Kshirsagar, who are also accused of downloading confidential data from Google. They are said to have left the company and followed Levandowski at Otto and Uber soon after doing so.
Reuters says the legal battle between Waymo and Uber is starting to become similar to the courtroom showdowns of Apple and Samsung. On an interesting note, it reports that Morrison & Foerster, Apple's representative back then, will represent Uber; while Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the firm that represents Samsung, will represent Waymo's parent company Alphabet.
"Competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads, not through unlawful actions. Given the strong evidence we have, we are asking the court step in to protect intellectual property developed by our engineers over thousands of hours and to prevent any use of that stolen IP," Waymo says (via TechCrunch).
As for Uber's response to the allegations, The Verge says that a representative of the ride-hailing service confirmed that the company is reviewing the recent motions and they called the lawsuit "baseless" yet again.
LiDAR is considered to be an essential factor for the early future of self-driving technology. It's a sensor that uses lasers to detect surrounding objects and measure distance to produce a 3-D map.
Quick Timeline Of Related Events
As a recap, Levandowski departed from Google back in January 2016 and cofounded Otto.
Soon after, the startup was acquired by Uber for $680 in August 2016.
In September 2016, Uber began testing its self-driving car project in Pittsburg.
The Bottom Line
Lately, things haven't been looking good for Uber. Namely speaking, there are the issue with the tool used to bypass regulators called Greyball, the heated argument between CEO Travis Kalanick and an Uber driver, and the resignation of Vice President of Product and Growth Ed Baker and Senior Vice President of Engineering Amit Singhal.
With the legal bout with Waymo, Uber won't be stepping out of the woods in the foreseeable future just yet.
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