Uber Reportedly Stops Using Otto Trademark, Ending Dispute

Uber has reportedly dropped its claim to the Otto trademark, the name of the self-driving truck unit started by ex-Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski, who is currently at the center of the massive legal case between Google and Uber. A dispute arose with the Otto trademark when Clearpath, a firm out of Ontario, Canada, who had chosen to call its robotics and automotive division Otto, swooped in and claimed that it had the name trademarked first and thus had the rights to the name. Clearpath even sued for infringement because Levandowski's Otto was similar in mission to Clearpath's Otto division. It had filed in February, while Ottomoto filed in March.

Uber steps away from the trademark amid a legal spat with Google over the very technology that it obtained by purchasing Otto. Levandowski stands accused of stealing intellectual property related to LiDAR and self-driving car systems from his former employer, while Uber stands accused of using that smuggled tech and code to enhance its own driverless vehicles. Levandowski has been ordered to never work with LiDAR technology again, while a preliminary injunction recently granted to Google has all but shut down Uber's self-driving operations entirely until further notice. Additionally, Uber has been ordered to produce and return the files that Levandowsky allegedly stole.

This all began when Levandowski left Google back in 2016 to work on Otto full time, taking close to 40 self-driving professionals from all over the industry with him. It didn't take long for Uber to snap Otto up after that. It's an easy conclusion to jump to - that Levandowski had made arrangements for that with Uber long beforehand in order to get Waymo's technology under Uber's roof. Uber maintains however, that there was no such deal, and it simply bought up Otto because the startup's goals aligned with its own. If Uber can prove that it was indeed taken by surprise with Levandowski's alleged misdeeds, the argument would then shift to how much of Uber's operations are based on that technology, and whether anybody but Levandowski knew that the stolen technology was being used before Google brought the matter to Uber's attention through legal means.

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