After Uber laid out its defense, Waymo now alleges that the latest claims by the ride-hailing firm constitute a cover-up. In a statement Waymo alleged that intellectual property stolen from the driverless car unit of Alphabet by Anthony Levandowski was already in use in Uber’s autonomous car technology. Therefore, Waymo added, the move by Uber to fire Levandowski came as a last resort and to save face.
“We’re not convinced by Uber’s attempts to distance itself from a former star engineer … Uber took part in a coverup, only firing Mr Levandowski after their actions were exposed in litigation,” said the statement from Waymo.
Driverless technology files
In response Uber rejected the allegations arguing that it was not aware of the proprietary information theft which is the basis of the suit that was filed by Waymo earlier in the year. The suit accuses the ride-hailing company of conspiring with Levandowski to steal trade secrets as well as download 14,000 files containing information on Waymo’s driverless car technology.
According to Waymo, the conspiracy was hatched between Uber and Levandowski in 2015 when the engineer was still working at Alphabet’s self-driving car unit with a view to stealing the proprietary files including some containing lidar technology designs. Lidar technology is responsible for assisting autonomous cars see their immediate environment.
Levandowski did not immediately join Uber Technologies after leaving Waymo but instead went to form a startup known as Otto which specialized in developing self-driving trucks. Uber acquired Levandowski’s startup last year in August for $680 million.
In a Wednesday filing Uber said that it had conducted a search on its servers for the Waymo files but it couldn’t find them. Uber also said that it had permitted Waymo to inspect its emails, facilities and computers for a combined 55 hours. This search yielded nothing prompting Uber to point out that the zero evidence was proof that Waymo has no case. Waymo has, however, stated that the process of discovery was incomplete and will continue.
In a ruling last month William Alsup, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the case, said he was compelled to believe that Levandowski stole Waymo’s files. Alsup also added that Uber knew that Levandowski, or should have known that the engineer stole the files when it signed him up.
The case is expected to go to trial later in the year and the filings are in fulfilment of an order by the presiding judge that the two companies to summarize the evidence that will be presented to the jury.