Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

US judge tells Uber to return Google's Waymo files 'stolen' by techie

US judge tells Uber to return Google's Waymo files 'stolen' by techie

The probe, combined with other legal and image woes, will reduce Uber's value and in the worst case could threaten the San Francisco company's existence if investors leave, criminal charges bring huge fines and legal action stalls autonomous auto research, legal experts have said.

Waymo is also suing Uber, claiming it is using secrets stolen by a former engineer to develop its self-driving technology.

According to Alsup, Waymo "has shown compelling evidence that its former star engineer" Anthony Levandowski "pilfered" thousands of Waymo documents.

A federal judge has ordered Uber to stop using technology that a key executive downloaded before he left Waymo, the autonomous vehicle company that was spun off from Google.

Meanwhile, if you have thoughts or opinions about the recent ruling ordering Uber to return stolen documents to Waymo, feel free to sound off in the comments section below! The ruling prevents Uber from using the technology on a navigational tool called Lidar that robotic cars use to see what's around them. Uber was ordered to return all downloaded materials to Waymo by noon on May 31. But Alsup determined that Waymo's patent infringement theories were too weak to support such an order. "Waymo has also sufficiently shown ... that the 14,000-plus purloined files likely contain at least some trade secrets". For example, Alsup wrote that Waymo can't claim that the way it positions light sources in its Lidar is protected, since the design uses well-known principles of physics.

"We are pleased with the court's ruling that Uber can continue building and utilizing all of its self-driving technology, including our innovation around LiDAR", Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler said.

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Waymo reportedly said in a statement, "We're looking forward to working with Lyft to explore new self-driving products that will make our roads safer and transportation more accessible".

Uber Technologies Inc must promptly return stolen confidential files to Alphabet Inc's Waymo self-driving auto unit, a federal judge ruled, while stopping short of shutting down the ride-services company's autonomous vehicle program. He had previously asserted his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, choosing to be tight-lipped.

Experts say prosecutors are likely to follow up on Alsup's order and launch an investigation.

The high-stakes case now will proceed to evidence exchanges between both sides and will go to trial if not settled, Tobias said.

A federal judge has ordered Uber not to use technology that a key executive downloaded before he left Waymo, the autonomous auto company that was spun off from Google. That could take months or more than a year. The following August, Uber bought Ottomotto and hired Levandowski to lead its self-driving auto efforts. The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco wouldn't confirm Monday whether it has opened an investigation.

Amid the legal battle, Waymo has aligned itself with Lyft, Uber's chief U.S. ride-hailing competitor.

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