Uber Technologies Inc. has an alibi for Alphabet Inc.'s allegations of trade-secrets theft - the ride-hailing company's driverless vehicle technology is completely different from its rival's designs.
Alphabet alleges that Anthony Levandowski stole 14,000 files from its self-driving auto wing before he left in January 2016 to start the autonomous trucking company Otto, which was purchased by Uber in August for $680 million.
Uber has claimed that its self-driving technology is unique and distinct from what Alphabet has created.
In a letter filed publicly to Judge William Aslup, Waymo's attorney says that Uber's search for the documents was "willfully" limited and insufficient, and did not include an investigation of the personal devices of Levandowski, now a VP of engineering. The company stated that it is still using off the shelf tech to develop its own self-driving cars but along with this, they had to admit that Google's self-driving cars are far more superior to their own.
Nevertheless, Uber does admit that it has found itself in a tricky legal position, because Levandowski has asserted his right to remain silent regarding the allegation that he downloaded 14,000 Waymo files before becoming an Uber employee. In fact, Waymo is now in the middle of arbitration with Levandowski - which began in October - whom they accused of using confidential information to poach employees for competing companies.
Waymo alleges Levandowski plotted his betrayal to Uber while he was still an executive at the Google unit.
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Uber's best bet to convince the judge not to grant Waymo's request for an injunction is to prove that it hasn't used any of Waymo's proprietary designs in its own self-driving system - regardless of what documents either Uber or Levandowski may have in their possession. In its defense, Uber said it began its lidar development in 2015, before Levandowski joined, and with staff that didn't come from Waymo.
"Uber does not like what the public is learning through this litigation about Uber's illegal and unfair competition", the latest filing said.
The complaint added that Waymo "cannot show" that Uber misappropriated its trade secrets or infringed its patents.
Waymo offered a different take on Tyto's origins in a court filing this week: It said Levandowski secretly formed Tyto in 2014 while he was working for Waymo.
Uber filed its response (pdf) at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division on Friday, April 7. It said that the accusations were "demonstrably false". Uber acquired Otto last August. In a court appearance earlier this week, Uber's lawyer Angela Padilla denied the allegations stating that, if Waymo truly believed they stole the technology, they would have not waited five months to press charges.