Uber has gone on record in an official filing to say that nobody at the ride-hailing giant knew that engineer and Otto founder Anthony Levandowski had any files or information belonging to Google until the lawsuit at hand was started and Levandowski confessed to possessing the data, long after he had joined Uber following the purchase of Otto. According to Uber's filing, the company was unaware of Levandowski's illicit possession of any trade secrets at first, and did not collude with him to obtain Google's trade secrets while he was still employed with the internet giant's self-driving car division, which would go on to become Waymo. Google, for its part, maintains that the formation of Otto and its subsequent purchase by Uber was fueled entirely by Uber's desire to steal Google's development secrets for Lidar technology and self-driving cars. Google's filing indicates that its investigation shows evidence of Uber scheming with Levandowski as far back as March of 2015.
Earlier, Google filed a motion alleging that there were not only agents at Uber that knew about Levandowski having the data, but that those agents go right up to former CEO Travis Kalanick himself. On top of that, the company alleged that Kalanick and others knew that Levandowski was in possession of the data before Otto was even formed. Uber has stated on record that Levandowski did indeed go to company higher-ups to confess that he had stolen trade secrets, but the company did not voluntarily use trade secrets in the development of its self-driving car solution, and the confession took place long after Uber had purchased Otto.
This case so far stands as an example of just how troublesome it can be to smuggle trade secrets, or even get into a situation where you end up propagating a potential conflict of interest. While Google's 55 hours of searching and investigation in Uber's systems have yet to turn up the files, the case has already seen Levandowski fired and banned from ever working with Lidar tech again, and has even earned Uber a partial injunction against its self-driving car exploits, filed by Waymo pending investigation into the potential use of Levandowski's stolen trade secrets in the company's autonomous vehicles.