Waymo Sues Uber for Intellectual Property Theft

Waymo has filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco claiming Uber and its self-driving truck company stole Waymo’s self-driving car technology.

That intellectual property theft of Alphabet’s Waymo unit by an Otto self-driving truck employee earned that company more than $500 million, the complaint alleges.

Uber acquired self-driving startup Otto last year for $680 million. Otto employees had committed “calculated theft” of Alphabet’s technology, the filing said.

Waymo claims in the suit that it took seven years to design and build the laser-scanning system guiding self-driving cars. Uber was able to tap into Otto’s process of getting it done in nine months, according to the suit.

Waymo was accidentally copied on an email from one of its vendors, which had an attachment showing an Uber Lidar circuit board that had a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s design, according to the court filing.

The claims in the federal court case include unfair competition, patent infringement, and trade secret misappropriation.

“Fair competition spurs new technical innovation, but what has happened here is not fair competition. Instead, Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time, and expense of independently developing their own technology,” Waymo said in the complaint.

“We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully,”’ Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler said in an email.

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Tensions continue to increase between Alphabet/Google and Uber. Google Ventures had invested significantly in the company, which ended abruptly last year; and Silicon Valley talent, especially skilled engineers, had been competed for heavily.

Uber is already facing a few fights of its own. The ride-hailing company has been mired in allegations of sexual harassment by a female developer who had worked with the company. The company this week set up a commission led by former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder to investigate the former developer’s allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination by her manager.

Weeks earlier, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from President Donald Trump’s business advisory council after customers deluged the company with social media attacks, citing his affiliation with Trump.

The Detroit News


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