Uber’s motion to move its self-driving technology dispute with Waymo to arbitration was denied by a competent court on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The latest turn of events marks the final confirmation that the two companies are set to engage in an entirely public legal battle which is moving to trial next month, with Alphabet and its subsidiary seeking to prove that Uber is using stolen self-driving technology in its own vehicles with the goal of obtaining a permanent injunction against the San Francisco, California-based company. Uber repeatedly stated that Alphabet’s lawsuit was just an attempt to stifle a rising competitor with no basis in reality, essentially accusing the firm of using the U.S. legal system for gaining an illegal advantage in the emerging field of self-driving vehicles.
Google and Uber’s former engineer Anthony Levandowski is at the center of the dispute despite not being personally charged by Alphabet in its lawsuit. When Mr. Levandowski left Google’s unit that was eventually spun off as Waymo and founded the self-driving startup Otto, he downloaded thousands of the company’s protected documents as part of what Uber claims was a bid to secure a bonus he was previously promised by Google. Alphabet’s attorneys view the incident as the beginning of his plan to steal a specific LiDAR design from his former employer and transfer it to Uber when Otto was acquired by the ride-hailing service provider in the summer of 2016 for $680 million. Uber stuck to its defense to this date while simultaneously trying to move the case to private arbitration based on its claims that Alphabet is primarily looking to lead a public smearing campaign against the company.
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit now dismissed that request, ruling that the U.S. District Court in San Francisco will continue being in charge of the case. As part of a separate appeal, the same court confirmed a previous ruling from the San Francisco judicial body which mandated Uber to produce an independent due diligence report of Otto conducted prior to its 2016 acquisition of the firm. Uber previously argued that the report cannot be publicized due to containing trade secrets.