Buckle your seatbelts. The car wars between Uber and Waymo has taken an interesting turn.
Uber admitted before a federal court that it found one of the stolen Waymo files on one of its employee's computer. The files are one of the 14,000 documents allegedly stolen by Waymo's ex-employees. This turn of events is part of the ongoing legal battle between Uber and Alphabet Inc., parent company of Waymo.
Anthony Levandowski, one of three Uber employees accused of stealing confidential Waymo files, recently invoked his right against self-incrimination.
Files Found On Computer Of Ex-Waymo-Now-Uber Employee
According to reports, Uber admitted that it found the stolen documents on the computer of Sameer Kshirsagar, an ex- employee of Waymo who now works for Uber. Uber's attorney Arturo Gonzalez confirmed this before the court on April 5.
Kshirsagar is one of three ex-employees of Waymo accused of corporate theft. Waymo claims that he downloaded several trade secrets involving self-driving car technology in June 2016, a month before he joined Radu Raduta and Anthony Levandowski.
After several denials, this is the first time that Uber admitted in possessing the stolen files. However, Uber was quick to distance itself from the issue and deny culpability, saying the documents were not found on Uber's computers.
"We did collect documents from him and thus far we have only found one document from his computers that matches the documents identified in the complaint," Gonzalez said. The names of the five specific documents were partially redacted (upon Waymo's request).
Waymo asked Uber to turn over these documents. However, Uber argued that it cannot give anything from Levandowski without infringing on his Fifth Amendment rights, or the right against self-incrimination.
"I believe that we will demonstrate to you that those 14,000 files never made it to Uber," Gonzalez said.
Who Is Anthony Levandowski?
Just who is Anthony Levandowski and why is Google hot on his trail?
Anthony Levandowski, according to a report, made Google a leader in self-driving vehicles. He began building his own self-driving Prius in 2008 when he was still working on Google Street View Maps. He used the tech of his own startup called 510 Systems. He also built a driverless motorcycle for an event by DARPA, the Pentagon's research department.
Google was initially hesitant to jump onto the self-driving tech but after successful demos (using a self-driving pizza-delivering Prius), Levandowski was able to convince Google's big bosses, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to buy 510 Systems and his technology. In 2009, Google jumpstarted its self-driving technology Waymo with help from Levandowski.
He got into trouble with Google when he self-lobbied a law in Nevada and California to allow self-driving car tests. His backdoor lobbying ruffled the feathers of Google and thus began the dramatic divorce.
In 2016, he resigned from Google and formed his self-driving truck startup called Otto. His company was later acquired by Uber for $700 million and the rest is history. A month before Otto, Waymo accused him of stealing several confidential documents on self-driving technology.