Economy

Judge tells Uber to hand over key document to Waymo

Judge tells Uber to hand over key document to Waymo”

Alphabet has twice before won the court's approval to get the document, but appeals keep popping up and the newest decision was striking down a Levandowski appeal.

The document at the heart of the fight is a due diligence report that Uber commissioned when it acqui-hired former Googler Anthony Levandowski and the entire self-driving truck startup he founded after suddenly resigning from Google.

Levandowski's employment contract with Waymo included a broad provision that any disputes would go before an arbitrator. "A contract to arbitrate is not an exception".

Levandowski, who asserted his Fifth Amendment rights early on in this case, argued that this document was covered by those rights on the basis of attorney-client privilege and that it could serve to incriminate him.

"Contract law principles hold that non-parties to a contract are generally not bound by the contract", Circuit Judge Pauline Newman wrote, on behalf of a panel of three judges.

Waymo, Google's self-driving auto spinoff, accused Uber of stealing its proprietary design for Lidar sensors used in self-driving cars. LiDar systems use the reflection of laser beams to sense a vehicle's surroundings so the auto can avoid pedestrians, obstacles and other vehicles.

Neither Uber nor Waymo immediately provided comments on Wednesday's ruling.

Waymo, one of Alphabet's largest investments, said it learned that seven-years worth of effort had been copied when it received an email from a component vendor using drawings that purported to be an Uber circuit board but was in reality a Waymo design.

Waymo has sought the document for months, saying it could shed light on what Uber executives knew of Levandowski's actions. Levandowski joined Uber following the acquisition of Otto, and he was appointed to lead Uber's self-driving department.

The court also upheld a ruling that Uber must produce a due diligence report prepared by its third-party investigation firm. Uber has argued that this is Waymo's burden to prove, and that Waymo would need to prove that Uber was engaged in planning a criminal scheme.

First a magistrate judge and then U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered Uber to turn over the report. Levandowski was sacked in May for not cooperating with the lawsuit.

Uber argued that the case should be resolved in arbitration because a key player - former head of Uber's self-driving vehicle program Anthony Levandowski - had signed an arbitration agreement when he worked at Waymo. Waymo has repeatedly asked to see this due diligence report, which includes an interview with Levandowski. "Indeed, the withheld report may be the only source of much of this information".



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