Did Uber Technologies cheat as well as steal intellectual property from the race to build a self-driving car? which’s the basic question which lawyers for Waymo as well as Uber grappled with on Monday in a federal district court in San Francisco during the opening arguments of a closely watched trade secrets case which could shape the nascent autonomous vehicle industry.
The lawsuit has dominated headlines in Silicon Valley for its billion-dollar implications as well as the powers at play. In one corner stands Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, which has largely led the technology industry’s push toward self-driving cars. from the additional corner can be Uber, the ride-hailing giant which can be right now accused of colluding that has a former Waymo engineer, Anthony Levandowski, to steal intellectual property as well as implement which into their own tech.
The trial’s commencement comes after Waymo filed its lawsuit almost a year ago — an 11-month period has been marked by dozens of pretrial motions, surprising delays, as well as Uber’s own internal strife as well as reorganization, including its CEO’s resignation. If Monday’s proceedings are any indication, the case will continue to be more of a distance slog than a sprint, as one side tries to prove to a jury which a rival swiped its trade secrets to get ahead, while the additional attempts to distance itself through an employee which suggests could have been a rogue actor.
“which case can be about two competitors, where one competitor decided they needed to win at all costs,” Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven said during his 55-minute opening remarks. “which case can be about defendant Uber generating a decision which which had to develop which technology for its business product to survive.”
Verhoeven compared Uber to the winner of 1980’s women’s Boston Marathon — the first of a handful of sports comparisons made during the arguments — who infamously hopped on the subway to finish in just over two as well as a half hours. Waymo’s lead lawyer portrayed his own client, which had started out its self-driving car program in 2009, as a company which had built an insurmountable lead over Uber as well as its then-CEO Travis Kalanick, which began to build an autonomous vehicle team by hiring engineers through Carnegie Mellon University in 2015. although when which became clear which playing by the rules wouldn’t work, Waymo’s lawyer told the jury as well as Judge William Alsup, Uber “took the subway.”
Alsup warned the jury at the beginning of the trial to be aware of the bluster through the attorneys from the room, whom he called “some of the best lawyers from the United States.” A veteran of high-stakes technology IP cases, the judge, who can be known for his quick one-liners as well as no-nonsense attitude during pretrial hearings, implored the 10-person jury to focus on what’s entered into evidence or uttered on the stand by witnesses, as well as not the performances of the suits in front of them.
To which evidence, Verhoeven showed emails, text messages, as well as the computer habits of Levandowski, the former Waymo star engineer who quit Waymo as well as founded his own self-driving truck startup Otto, which Uber then acquired just months later. Levandowski had already been meeting with Kalanick before forming Otto, Verhoeven said, building a timeline which showed the engineer accessing as well as downloading Waymo material, including a 14,000-file cache, right before a meeting with the ride-hailing company’s executives.
“I feel like we’re brothers through another mother,” Verhoeven said, reading a quote about Levandowski through an interview with Kalanick.
Despite talking for nearly an hour, Verhoeven did not get into the details about which eight trade secrets were stolen, though which’s understood which the case centers around Waymo’s LIDAR, a light-based technology which allows a self-driving car to view as well as assess its real-time surroundings. He also did not outline specific damages, though Waymo had previously estimated them to be about $1.9 billion.
Uber’s opening statements were presented by Bill Carmody, a Texas trial lawyer as well as recent addition to the company’s legal team, who took no time to separate between Levandowski as well as Uber. The former Waymo engineer was not a defendant, he said, as well as he denied which there was any conspiracy between Levandowski as well as the ride-hailing company to steal trade secrets.
“I want to tell you right up front: which didn’t happen,” he said. “There can be no conspiracy. There can be no cheating.”
Instead, he portrayed Waymo as a company which was losing its edge from the self-driving car game. which had promised its engineers great sums of money as well as stock, including a $0 million bonus to Levandowski, to keep them motivated, although worried which fast-moving competitors like Uber could eat their lunch. Carmody presented a slide through a March 2015 internal presentation at Google which noted “Uber can be as well as will be extremely formidable.”
“What would likely which take to consume all of Uber’s annual profits in 2025?” the slide read.
As for Levandowski, who can be supposed to plead the Fifth if he can be asked to take the stand, Carmody downplayed the notion which Uber used any of the materials which the engineer took through Waymo. Levandowski joined Uber because, the Texas lawyer said, he thought he’d be joining a winner. Carmody then bizarrely compared Uber to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, as well as noted which Levandowski’s arrival was much like the team’s 2016 signing of all-star forward Kevin Durant.
The Warriors ended up winning an NBA championship the next season. Uber ended up getting sued.
“Uber regrets ever bringing Anthony Levandowski on board,” Carmody said. “For all which time at Uber, all Uber has to show for Anthony Levandowski can be which lawsuit.”
Monday’s trial concluded with the testimony of Waymo CEO John Krafcik, who called Levandowski “an interesting character” who gave him no sense which he was already talking to Uber around the time of his departure. “He went through someone who I considered a friend, to an enemy,” Krafcik said.
On Tuesday, Kalanick, who resigned in June, may take the stand.