Google spinoff and Uber trade jabs in court

Waymo Uber lawsuit autonomous technology Uber self-driving tech theft Waymo self-driving unit Anthony Levandowski Uber Lidar sensor Uber ride-hailing services CEO John Krafcik Waymo

Mountain View-based Waymo alleges that a former Google engineer who was hired and later fired by Uber stole secrets related to laser sensors that enable self-driving cars to identify their surroundings.

Waymo had sued Uber, alleging that the latter used Waymo's trade secrets to advance Uber's own driverless-car program.

Levandowski has claimed his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination, so while he may take the stand, don't count on hearing anything substantive from him anytime soon.

"This is about two competitors, where one competitor decided they needed to win at all costs", Verhoeven said.

The first witness, Waymo CEO John Krafcik, said he felt a growing mistrust toward Levandowski. And Waymo attorney Verhoeven likened Uber and Kalanick, to Ruiz, who was disqualified as the women's victor of the 1980 Boston Marathon after it emerged that she'd ridden the subway instead of running the entire 26.2-mile course.

That message was delivered loud and clear Monday in a federal courtroom in downtown San Francisco, where a packed house - one that included nine lawyers from each side - listened to opening statements.

The Uber vs. Waymo battle has stirred up a whirlwind of media attention and coverage over a year-long timeline of events that The Verge called "dramatic and hilarious".

Alsup warned the jury at the beginning of the trial to be aware of the bluster from the attorneys in the room, whom he called "some of the best lawyers in the United States".

U.S. District Judge William Alsup frequently admonished Uber for its conduct leading up to the trial. The engineer helped Google become a leading force in the autonomous vehicle world before leaving to found his own self-driving truck startup, Otto, which was subsequently bought by Uber.

Uber Technologies Inc has spent much of the past year confronting and atoning for business practices adopted when co-founder Travis Kalanick ran the place.

The accusations flew in the opening day of a blockbuster tech sector trial in which Google parent Alphabet's Waymo division is seeking at least $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,400 crores) over the theft of secrets from its self-driving auto program.

Waymo is seeking damages from Uber, as well as a permanent injunction blocking it from using the tech. Carmody highlighted Uber's relationship with Carnegie Mellon University, which has a highly regarded robotics institute, as evidence that the company's ideas came from "people at Uber" and "real engineers" who have brought their "talents" to the ride-sharing company.

Karen Dunn, a lawyer representing Uber at trial, says she's confident that 'Uber witnesses will be able to explain why you'd want to do this acquisition in ways that are very intuitive. "There is no conspiracy". What was then known as Project Chauffeur eventually grew into Waymo, a semi-independent company managed by Google's parent company, Alphabet. It had promised its engineers great sums of money and stock, including a $120 million bonus to Levandowski, to keep them motivated, but anxious that fast-moving competitors like Uber could eat their lunch.

"What would it take to consume all of Uber's annual profits in 2025?" the slide read.

Documents introduced in court showed that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 documents from Waymo the same day he met with Uber in 2015. Carmody told the court on Monday that the company laments Levandowski's hiring.

Carmody began to separate Uber from whatever Levandowski might have done. Uber ended up getting sued.

Levandowski isn't named in the lawsuit, even though the case revolves around Waymo's allegations that the engineer illegally took thousands of documents from Google to Uber.

Waymo's chief lawyer stated that the reason behind Uber's plagiarism was that it's a company that realized the future of elite transportation is heading towards autonomous vehicles, and they realized how grim the future will be. And observers say the result of the trial could have important ramifications for both the companies involved, as well as on the culture and workforce in Silicon Valley.



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