Sci-tech

Media companies fight to keep Uber v Waymo case public

Media companies fight to keep Uber v Waymo case public”

Alphabet's lawyers say it shows that Uber knew that Levandowski had taken secrets from Google's self-driving auto spinoff, Waymo, when he joined Uber. That startup, Ottomotto LLC, was founded by former Google engineer Anthony Levandowkski, who is now accused by Alphabet and its autonomous vehicle unit Waymo, of stealing proprietary technology associated with self-driving cars.

Meanwhile, though Uber initially sought to seal the report, a spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the company is glad the document is now public. According to the report, Levandowski discovered a data storage container at his home, with "source code, design files, laser files, engineering documents, and software related to Google self-driving cars", which Levandowski said he had downloaded purely as an ordinary matter of departure from his job at Google.

The report also shows evidence of Levandowski downloading other Google documents and Google emails to his personal computer, many of which were subsequently deleted.

The report supports Waymo's narrative that Levandowski took self-driving vehicle documents from the company before joining Uber, and that should've raised questions about employing him.

These cover exactly how Uber uses Waymo's trade secrets, Waymo's non-public financial information, confidential information of Waymo's employees, and details of mergers and acquisitions. He told Uber CEO Travis Kalanick about the disks in March 2016, and Kalanick wanted nothing to do with them, telling Levandowski to "do what he needed to do", according to the report. Levandowski left Google in January 2016, joined Uber days later, and soon after secured a rough framework of a deal for Uber to acquire Ottomotto. That's why, Uber says, the report vindicates the company's assertion that no Google material wound up at the ride-hailing company.

"Stroz Friedberg investigators showed the employees a picture of Levandowski, but no one recognized him", the report states. Levandowski said he brought the disks to Shred Works, a shredding facility in Oakland. "At that point, the better course would have been to let that process control".

But Uber contends Kalanick said he insisted that Levandowski destroy any Google files he had in his possession before joining Uber and that this report is further evidence that none of the files made it to the ride-hail company. Uber asserts that nothing Levandowski took with him from Google ever made its way to Uber.

The carefully worded Stroz report noted that some communications suggest that "details relating to the formation of Ottomotto may have taken place while he was still employed at Google".

Uber and Google parent company Alphabet's self-driving division, Waymo, are scheduled for a jury trial this month. "Even after 60 hours of inspection of our facilities, source code, documents and computers-no Google material has been found at Uber", Matt Kallman, an Uber spokesman, said in a statement. Waymo is now attempting to distract from that hard fact, even attempting to hide its core trade secrets case from the public and the press by closing the courtroom.

Waymo filed a brief asking the judge to bar the media and members of the public from parts of the trial to protect its trade secrets. "In addition, Waymo is also awaiting production of 118 of Anthony Levandowski's devices from Defendants".

"On the eve of trial, Uber has identified 15,000 potentially relevant emails and 85 GB of documents that were not produced during the discovery period", the Waymo spokeswoman wrote.

But the report also notes that Levandowski instructed his coworkers to delete iMessages from him and that he searched for instructions on securely wiping files from his computer shortly before his interview with Stroz investigators.



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