Uber Must Hand Over Document About Otto Purchase, Judge Rules

June 9, 2017 - Written By Alexander Maxham

The US District Judge, that is overseeing the case between Waymo and Uber, has just ruled that Uber needs to hand over a document that would shed light on what the company’s executives knew about the alleged theft of Waymo’s LiDAR files. The document that Judge William Alsup is requesting Uber to hand over is in regards to its purchase of Otto, the company that Anthony Levandowski created after leaving Waymo. It’s a due diligence report that Uber had created during acquisition talks with Otto in 2016. Waymo had actually been trying to get a copy of this report before the trial, so it could prepare, but Uber had been refusing to turn it over. Now the judge has ordered Uber to do just that.

Levandowski worked for Alphabet’s Self-Driving Car Project before it spun off into Waymo, a few years ago. He allegedly downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving the company. Levandowski stated that he downloaded them so that he could “work from home” but after leaving the company, he never deleted or returned the files. In fact, it appeared he was using the files at Otto and then at Uber. Waymo decided to start the lawsuit in February, after one of its suppliers accidentally left a copy of Uber’s LiDAR setup attached to an email sent to Waymo. Which, unsurprisingly, looked familiar to Waymo.

Throughout the case, Judge Alsup has told Uber to make the files that Levandowski took over to the company, appear. Uber’s attorneys have stated that it has searched all of the servers at Uber but could not find them. Judge Alsup told them to look harder, or Uber would be slapped with an injunction that could become permanent. Meaning that its self-driving car program would be finished. Shortly after that, Uber fired Levandowski, their head of self-driving cars, due to this lawsuit. Waymo is actually suing both Uber and Levandowski individually, so even though Levandowski no longer works for Uber, he’s not quite out of the dog house, as far as this lawsuit is concerned. It’ll be interesting to see how the lawsuit ends, which likely won’t be for a while.