U.S. judge rejects Uber bid to move Waymo case to arbitration

It's all about the lidar

The case, which was being heard in San Francisco, has now been referred to the US Attorney for investigation, by District Judge William Alsup. Any company that nails self-driving auto technology is apt to reap billions by licensing its tech to those operating fleets of ride-hailing vehicles. Otto was later acquired by Uber. The Harvard Law graduate has experience in trials involving high-profile technology companies, including a 2012 patent and copyright infringement case pitting Oracle against Google. Uber did not deny the allegations, and Levandowski's attempt to assert his Fifth Amendment rights added more fuel to the fire. In a sealed opinion, Alsup also granted a partial injunction against Uber.

Uber's belief was that Waymo, now a separate spin-out of Google, purposefully brought the case against Uber and not Levandowski to keep it in the public spotlight and avoid its obligation to his employment agreement. "The gravamen of those proceedings is Waymo's allegations of employee poaching by Levandowski", Alsup wrote in his Thursday order denying Uber Technologies' motion to compel arbitration. "We welcome the court's decision today, and we look forward to holding Uber responsible in court for its misconduct", a Waymo representative told NBC News in a statement.

If the ruling and Alsup's comments in the arbitration ruling are any indication, Alsup's pending decision on a preliminary injunction might not be favorable to Uber. If it goes through and the U.S. Attorney's Office gets involved, anyone involved in the theft of company secrets from Waymo could face severe legal consequences, with Anthony Levandowski being at the top of the list.

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Waymo's suit alleges that a former employee, Anthony Levandowski, stole 14,000 files full of self-driving auto trade secrets when he moved on to found his own self-driving vehicle company, Otto, which Uber later acquired for $680 million.

"We remain confident in our case and welcome the chance to talk about our independently developed technology any forum".

In the complaint filed in February, Waymo accused Levandowski of downloading 14,000 files to a memory card while he was heading its driverless vehicle project.

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Two, there will be an ugly and very public court fight between Waymo and Uber, since the possibility of arbitration has been removed. According to Alsup, Uber's claims that Waymo used all sorts of tricks to avoid arbitration by not listing Levandowski as a defendant were groundless.

Asked whether Waymo has communicated with the Justice Department about the prospect of or existence of a criminal investigation, a spokesman declined to comment. Waymo claims in the lawsuit, issued in February, that a former employee now working under Uber stole roughly 14,000 confidential files when he moved companies.

Technology companies Uber and Waymo, along with Detroit automakers, are in a cutthroat race to develop self-driving technology, which they think could define the future of transportation in the United States.

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