Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

Uber threatens to fire self-driving car engineer in trade secrets case

Uber threatens to fire self-driving car engineer in trade secrets case

Uber appealed on Thursday a USA court's decision to deny the company's motion to push its case to arbitration in the Waymo lawsuit, a court document revealed.

Waymo sued Uber in February for allegedly conspiring with Mr. Levandowski to steal Waymo files, in an effort to benefit Uber's driverless-car program.

The court case involves Google's Waymo accusing Uber of using proprietary information retrieved by former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski. "[Waymo's] decision to bring separate claims against defendants in court was not only reasonable but also the only course available, since Waymo had no arbitration agreement with defendants".

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The notice of appeal was filed a week after US District Court Judge William Alsup, the presiding judge in the case, denied Uber's motion and referred the matter to federal prosecutors for possible criminal investigation.

Uber's letter to Mr. Levandowski was revealed in a motion his attorneys filed with the court late Thursday that asks the judge to revise his ruling that Uber could fire Mr. Levandowski for invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Uber representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on Levandowski's filing, and a Waymo spokesman declined to comment. The ride-hailing app is able to continue working on its self-driving vehicle project, however, and the court found that very little of Waymo's intellectual property had found its way into Uber's prototypes.

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Asked what the company is doing to prevent such exploitations, he cited "basic IT security blocking and tackling". Security experts are advising victims to wait before paying the ransom. "It's not rocket science", Litan said.

Uber has not yet said in court papers whether it plans to appeal the injunction.

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

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