Last month, it was made public by Waymo that they were suing Uber. It was a bit of an interesting turn of events, seeing as Waymo's parent company, Alphabet was and still is an investor in Uber, making for some rather uncomfortable talks in Mountain View. Allegedly, Uber had stolen some designs from Waymo, as it pertains to their LiDAR system. And now, Waymo is asking the judge to block Uber's self-driving car operations during the lawsuit. In court today, Gary Brown who is a forensic security engineer at Google and has been there since 2013, took the stand. Brown cited some logs from Google's own secure network, which shows that Anthony Levandowski did indeed download 14,000 files from their network which contained sensitive information like designs and schematics for their self-driving car project. Levandowski actually used his own personal laptop to do this, and Brown stated that actually made it easier to track.
Brown's testimony also included the fact that there were two other Google employees that downloaded some confidential files from their network before leaving Google and joining Levandowski at Otto before that company was bought by Uber. A Waymo spokesperson stated that "competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads, not through unlawful actions. Given the strong evidence we have, we are asking the court to step in to protect intellectual property developed by our engineers over thousands of hours to prevent any use of that stolen intellectual property." There's been no word on whether the judge will be blocking Uber's self-driving car operations just yet, but it is a very real possibility at this time.
This lawsuit could have very real implications for Uber, Waymo and the self-driving industry as a whole. Right now, there hasn't been many cases as it relates to intellectual property, and this could really change the future for the entire industry. Of course, Levandowski and his accomplices could also be seeing some time behind bars for illegally downloading these files and then using them to build their own self-driving trucking company before heading to a competitor, which is a pretty big deal in its own right.