Ride-share pioneer Uber has denied that the driverless-car designs it is developing are based on trade secrets stolen from Waymo.
Waymo, a unit of Google parent company Alphabet, claims that executive Anthony Levandowski illegally downloaded thousands of documents containing Waymo trade secrets when he left the company in 2015.Waymo argues that Levandowski used those secrets as the foundation for Otto, a company he founded in February 2016, which worked to develop self-driving trucks.
Uber is involved because it acquired Otto for $680 million six months later.Levandowski is now the head of Uber's driverless-car initiative and he is at the center of Waymo's lawsuit.
One of the key technologies in the dispute is called a LIDAR – a light detection and ranging system that allows cars to sense the presence of obstacles and other cars using cameras and other sensors.Waymo argues that Uber's car designs are based on LIDAR technology stolen by Levandowski.
Uber denies the claim, arguing that its LIDAR system is significantly different from the system Waymo uses.The Uber design uses four lenses, for instance, while Waymo's has just one.
The denial comes in the wake of a Waymo motion, filed in March, petitioning the court for an injunction to halt Uber's driverless-car development efforts.
Uber argues that the appeal for an injunction should be denied because Waymo has not proved there is any urgency at stake.Waymo learned about Levandowski's alleged file downloads in October of 2016, but did not seek an injunction for five months.
"Waymo's injunction motion is a misfire," said Uber lawyer Angela Padilla. "If Waymo genuinely thought that Uber was using its secrets, it would not have waited more than five months to seek an injunction.Waymo doesn't meet the high bar for an injunction, which would stifle our independent innovation — probably Waymo's goal in the first place."