Technology

Uber and Waymo Reach Settlement in Self-Driving Car Court Case

Uber and Waymo Reach Settlement in Self-Driving Car Court Case

The Waymo lawsuit was the most pressing legal battle for Uber but only one item in a long list of controversies that have dogged the company for the a year ago. The computer forensics expert Uber hired to scrub the engineer at the center of the dispute, Friedberg resumed testifying in the fourth day of trial in San Francisco federal court.

Waymo and Uber announced an agreement Friday in the blockbuster federal lawsuit over allegedly stolen trade secrets from the former Google self-driving auto project.

Uber has announced that it's reached a settlement with Alphabet's autonomous auto division Waymo.

Uber bought Otto, the company Levandowski formed just before he quit Waymo in January 2016, in a $600m stock deal. But the trial is now over. Waymo gets 0.34 percent of Uber's equity at the company's $72 billion valuation, which works out to a value of around $245 million. So Uber started talking to Otto founder Anthony Levandowski, who was still working at Google, about helping Uber develop its laser sensor technology - an essential component for self-driving cars.

What remains unclear is whether the lawsuit or the verdict affects Uber's self-driving auto strategy.

Elizabeth Rowe, a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, analyzed about 150 trade secret verdicts through 2014 and said $245 million would rank as second highest.

On Friday, a few days after the case had gone to court, both sides agreed on a settlement.

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Waymo filed a lawsuit almost a year ago accusing Uber of conspiring with Levandowski to create a fake company that would be purchased by Uber and used to steal eight trade secrets from Google's self-driving auto team.

Writing today, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi voiced his regret that the lawsuit had ever come to take place, suggesting that the allegations from Alphabet "raised some hard questions" at a company already reeling from accusations of shady behavior around passenger tracking, its rivals in ride-sharing, and workplace discrimination.

Uber's CEO says in a printed statement that the company doesn't believe trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber.

In a statement released Friday, Waymo - which had accused Uber of stealing numerous trade secrets that were embedded in Waymo's self-driving vehicle technology - said it believes the binding agreement will protect its intellectual property moving forward. The 10-person jury will have to decide whether the documents were indeed trade secrets and not common knowledge, and whether Uber improperly acquired them, used them and benefited from them. Waymo alleged Levandowski had downloaded 14,000 confidential files, including trade secrets, shortly before he quit to start Otto, which he quickly cut a deal to sell to Uber. If that's not the case, then it would have to rebuild its LiDAR or retrofit its cars with LiDAR purchased on the open market, a potentially costly and time consuming move. Judge Alsup had instructed Waymo to bring a separate lawsuit against Uber if it wished to block the company from using its software.

As Kalanick and Levandowski discussed ways to work together, they exchanged hundreds of text messages.

Had the case continued, the losing party likely would have appealed, which could have dragged out for years and may have involved a new trial.

The Shakespearean term has aggressive overtones. "Larry was very upset that we were doing his thing", Kalanick said.