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The blockbuster legal battle between Uber and Google’s self-driving spinoff company, Waymo, hinges on two questions. One: Did former Google engineer and self–driving car whiz Anthony Levandowski swipe documents containing valuable Google intellectual property and bring them to his own startup, which would be acquired by Uber just months later for a reported $680 million?
And two: Did Uber executives, including now-ousted CEO Travis Kalanick, conspire with Levandowski to do it, then use that intellectual property to advance their own technology? Now a hotly contested due diligence report, commissioned by Uber, makes it clear that the ride-hailing company knew Levandowski had ill-gotten Google files before it bought his startup and put him in charge of its own self-driving efforts. Question one seems to have its answer, and question two just got a lot more interesting. The firm Stroz Friedberg prepared the report, which Uber used to prep for its 2016 acquisition of Otto, Levandowski’s company focused on self–driving truck technology.
Waymo's attorneys filed the report as an exhibit in the case on Monday night, making it public. Since Waymo filed its suit in February, Uber's battle stance has been: Whatever Levandowski did, we had no part in it. Any stolen files never made it onto our servers or into our cars.
No one here used that information to inform how we're developing our own technology. The due diligence report indicates that Uber’s investigators knew Levandowski had possession of thousands of files related to the Google self–driving car project at least two months after he left the company. The report finds the engineer had access to Google self-driving project design files, source code, laser details, emails, presentations, software, and photos of Google tech and computer screens on his personal laptop, in a Dropbox account that he had used while at the company, and on a set of five disks. But Levandowski had deleted or destroyed many of the files by the time he met with Uber’s investigators, even emptying his computer’s trash while inside the law firm’s offices.
Levandowski told Uber’s investigators that he and Kalanick exchanged more than 200 text messages during this period. Through Waymo, Google is suing Uber for stealing a raft of self–driving car trade secrets and patents, including information on lidar, a sensor that will help autonomous vehicles “see” the world around them. The search giant says that Levandowski stole thousands of documents when he left Google as part of a plan to bring those patents and trade secrets to Uber and use them to jump-start Uber's own self–driving car project.
The suit demands Uber pay at least $1.9 billion in damages. Uber had used every legal maneuver and appeal it could muster to keep the 34-page report out of Waymo’s hands. But on Monday, an Uber spokesperson said the embattled company was “pleased” the due diligence report had been made public. It “helps explain why—even after 60 hours of inspection of our facilities, source code, documents, and computer—no Google material has been found at Uber,” the spokesperson said in a statement. If you’re still feeling a bit mystified about how and why Levandowski left Google and finally made his way to Uber, know that you are not alone. Levandowski has refused to answer questions, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Federal District Judge William Alsup has taken the rare step of referring the case to federal prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges against Levandowski, Kalanick, Uber, and others are warranted., saying he wasn't cooperating with its legal efforts.
Uber's report makes it clear that Levandowski aggressively recruited for his startup while working at Google. He held one-on-one meetings with more than 20 Google employees at the company’s offices, at recruits' homes, and in coffee shops. At the end of 2015 and in early 2016, he held four recruiting meetings at barbecues at his house and on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe. (A number of Google employees were invited to these soirees through their work email addresses.) Levandowski told Uber’s investigators that his startup made employment offers to at least 15 Google employees before and after his departure from the company. By mid-March 2016, Otto had 30 employees, 16 of whom were former Google workers.
More curious is the business with Levandowski’s five disks, which contained, the report says, proprietary information. The engineer told Uber investigators that he discovered the disks inside a closet sometime just after he suddenly resigned from Google.
By Levandowski’s retelling, he immediately informed his attorney about the disks and alerted Uber’s top brass. An Uber executive told Levandowski to preserve the disks for record-keeping purposes, but by the time he met with Stroz investigators, Levandowski said he had taken them to an Oakland shredding facility to be destroyed. The subsequent investigation did not turn up any hard evidence that the shredding facility destroyed the five disks but suggested that if it did, it only happened three days after Levandowski met with investigators.
Waymo’s legal team is touting the report’s revelations as a victory. “Knowing all this, Uber paid $680 million for Mr. Levandowski’s company, protected him from legal action, and installed him as the head of their self-driving vehicle program,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement. “This report raises significant questions and justifies careful review.' The team has used the report to ask Judge Alsup for a delayed trial, which would give the company more time to review the document and others recently released by Uber.
New Blue Fx Activation Keygen Generator. But the company still hasn’t firmly linked Uber to the stolen files—that’s that pesky question two. Waymo will need to prove that Levandowski’s information made it into Uber self-driving tech, or that the ride-hailing giant was negligent enough to make that leakage possible. “So far you don’t have any smoking gun,” Judge Alsup told the company's lawyers in May. That was thousands and thousands of documents ago. Waymo’s team has promised there are bombshells to be revealed, but for now, the air in the courtroom looks pretty clear.