U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Friday partially granted Waymo's injunction motion against Uber that the Alphabet-owned company requested while claiming that the ride-hailing tech giant needs to be prevented from using its stolen technology until the theft can be proven in the court of law. The judge released the ruling on the preliminary injunction under seal to legal representatives of both Waymo and Uber and the San Francisco-based court will make them public shortly. Due to the nature of the release, the contents of the ruling are still unknown, though the court docket reveals that the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction against the defendant has been partially denied and partially granted.
Judge Alsup also referred the case to the state attorney, suggesting an investigation into the alleged theft of Waymo's trade secrets, but offered no opinion on whether the matter should be criminally prosecuted. Regardless, the judge noted that there's "ample evidence" that Waymo's former self-driving engineer Anthony Levandowski stole trade secrets and other sensitive documentation from his former employer before leaving to found autonomous truck startup Otto and joining Uber that acquired his new company last year. Waymo argues that the self-driving tech stolen by Levandowski is currently being used by Uber, which is why the company previously filed for a preliminary injunction against the defendant. Uber recently tried using Levandowski's employment contract with Waymo to force the case into private arbitration as the contract is said to contain comprehensive arbitration clauses, but Judge Alsup reportedly dismissed that notion as Levandowski is not officially named in Waymo's lawsuit.
Given recent developments, Uber is now set for a completely public trial and a possible criminal investigation, though the company continues to insist that the LiDAR design utilized by its autonomous vehicles is an original invention. The San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant previously accused Alphabet's self-driving unit of launching a bogus lawsuit with the goal of stifling and smearing competition, a notion that the plaintiff promptly dismissed. An update on the legal battle between Waymo and Uber is expected to follow in the coming weeks after the contents of Judge Alsup's preliminary injunction ruling are revealed.