Uber threatens to fire engineer accused of stealing self-driving secrets

19 May, 2017, 15:49 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Lyft is teaming up with Waymo for self-driving cars project

Uber's General Counsel told Anthony Levandowski that failure to comply with the demand could result in his termination from the company.

To date Levandowski has exercised his fifth amendment rights in order to avoid self incrimination, but now the company is demanding the Uber engineer comply with Judge William Alsup's order to return over 14,000 files that were allegedly taken from Waymo. The Alphabet unit claims he downloaded thousands of confidential files before he left the company to launch his own self-driving startup, Otto, that was acquired by Uber for $680 million.

The information was believed had made its way into Uber's light detection and ranging systems (LiDAR) which is a key sensor technology in self-driving automobiles since it assists the cars to see and navigate the world.

Uber has not denied that Levandowski took Waymo documents, but says it has not used any Waymo technology in its cars.

According to the letter, the transportation group has been ordered to prevent Levandowski and all other officers, directors, personnel and agents of defendants from referring, copying or otherwise using the downloaded files. Attorneys representing Mr. Levandowski didn't respond to a request for comment.

The lawyers asked the judge to modify his order so that Uber won't be required to fire the engineer should he invoke the Fifth Amendment again and refuse to hand over the documents.

Uber representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on Levandowski's filing, and a Waymo spokesman declined to comment. Alsup blocked Uber's efforts to have the lawsuit heard in a private forum, ruling that it should continue to be litigated in San Francisco federal court.

Earlier, Uber said it would appeal a judge's order rejecting its attempt to arbitrate Waymo's trade secret claims, according to a court filing.

Uber is threatening to fire the engineer at the centre of its legal battle with self-driving vehicle firm Waymo unless he hands over documents from his previous employer.

The arbitration would benefit Uber above all by keeping the case out of the public's eye and by containing the span of information sharing or discovery.

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