The trade secret trial between Waymo and Uber is about to begin and both parties were back in court today for what appears to be a critical hearing. Judge William Alsup , the same judge who presided over Oracle v. Google, declared that Waymo and its lawyers could not present financial figures at trial as it may influence the jury unfairly. Waymo was ordered to focus solely on the trade secrets specifically. This could be a huge win for Uber if they lose the case in terms of the amount of damages they would have to pay. The judge ruled, citing other patent cases, that the projections could significantly increase awards to the plaintiff if the defendant was found liable. In contrast, Judge Alsup will allow Waymo to show the jury Uber’s projections from its “Project Rubicon” and enter it as evidence.
Waymo v. Uber was filed back in February 2017 when Waymo charged that its former employee Anthony Levandowsky stole some 14,000 documents prior to resigning. Levandowski then started his own company which was acquired by Uber shortly thereafter. Thus, Alsup has ordered lawyers to create and agree upon a basic timeline of events pertaining to the case. Prior to the hearing, Wymo submitted their version of the timeline, which differs from Uber’s. Judge Alsup subsequently warned both sides that he would effectively reprimand the lawyers in front of the jury if they could not come together on a timeline.
There were several other decisions ordered during the hearing by Alsup. Along with Uber’s financial projections, both sides were told to submit a glossary of the top dozen people involved in the case in order to help the jurors keep their arms around the “who” in the case. Both lawyers were also instructed to submit their final witness list by start of business on Wednesday. The outcome of this suit is very critical for both companies. As the market for self-driving vehicles begins to heat up, the winner of the suit will likely be the at front of the pack. There may also be hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. If using Oracle v. Google as an example, where the awards were in the billions, this could be very costly for Uber.