Uber said its former Strategic Services Group official Richard Jacobs who recently testified the ride-hailing company sponsored extensive corporate espionage efforts was trying to extort the company when he authored a 37-page letter regarding the firm's security practices which ultimately ended up delaying the high-profile trial with Waymo over alleged trade secret theft for the second time in less than two months. Uber's deputy general counsel Angela Padilla testified in front of District Court Judge William Alsup on Wednesday after the contents of Mr. Jacobs's letter were disclosed to the presiding court by a federal prosecutor investigating Uber in regards to several matters, not all of which are related to its ongoing dispute with Alphabet's self-driving subsidiary.
Despite saying the claims in the letter whose exact contents are still unknown to the public are meritless, Ms. Padilla confirmed the San Francisco, California-based company settled with Mr. Jacobs for $4.5 million and paid an additional $3 million to his attorney. $1 million of the sum awarded to its former employee was paid as a consulting fee for his assistance in a subsequent internal investigation at the firm, according to Ms. Padilla's testimony. Judge Alsup was seemingly irritated by the testimony, according to eyewitness reports, having specifically pushed Uber's deputy general counsel on the fact that she called the accuser an extortionist yet the startup not only opted to award him a handy payout but even hired him as a consultant following the initial affair. Ms. Padilla insisted the decision was a sound one from a financial standpoint, claiming the costs of discovery alone would have surpassed the value of the settlement given to Mr. Jacobs if Uber opted to resolve the matter in court.
The controversial letter was written by Mr. Jacobs's attorney after the official was seen downloading company documents to his personal computer. He resigned after when confronted about the matter and produced the letter shortly after, according to Ms. Padilla's testimony. Uber's general counsel said she'll accept full responsibility for the fact the letter wasn't produced to Waymo's lawyers after Judge Alsup insisted it should have been, though she remained adamant it's not only meritless but doesn't pertain to the case in any regard. Mr. Jacobs's public testimony given earlier this week said Uber's corporate espionage efforts were only directed at foreign rivals to the best of his knowledge but it's still unclear whether Waymo is mentioned or implied in the letter that saw the high-profile trial pushed back to February 5th. The case was originally meant to move to trial on October 11th and was first delayed to December 4th before the contents of Mr. Jacobs's letter were disclosed to Judge Alsup who said it would be "a huge injustice" to not give Waymo additional time to inspect the new evidence.