In the latest chapter of Waymo and Uber’s ongoing legal battle, a lawyer for Waymo alleged during a hearing today in San Francisco federal court that Uber conspired with Anthony Levandowski to create a “cover-up scheme” in order to steal Waymo’s self-driving car technology…
“We’ve learned that Uber and Levandowski together created a cover-up scheme for what they were doing,” Charles Verhoeven, a lawyer for Waymo, said according to BuzzFeed. “They concocted a story for public consumption. The story was that Mr. Levandowski left Waymo for his own company.”
Attorneys for Waymo also mentioned a deal that would leave Levandowski with 5.3 million “restricted stock units” of Uber, which was dated to January 28, 2016, the day after he quit at Google. (Uber told BuzzFeed this date was meant to reflect the first day of his time at Otto.) Waymo attorneys also showed evidence allegedly proving that Uber execs considered purchasing Otto before it was created.
While U.S. District Judge William Alsup said today that it’s “undisputed” that Uber’s Anthony Levandowski downloaded 14,000 documents prior to departing the Mountain View company, he’s not convinced that Levandowski and Uber conspired in stealing said intellectual property.
“I’ve given you lots of discovery, and so far you don’t have any smoking gun,” judge Alsup told Waymo in court today, according to Reuters.
It goes without saying that it would be bad news for Uber if it were proven that the company conspired with Levandowski, but so far there just isn’t enough evidence. Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven reportedly said that Waymo believes that evidence likely exists, however, citing Uber’s “improper” withholding of “thousands of documents” as confidential legal documents.
According to Reuters, the judge was “wrestling with whether to issue an injunction against the ride service.” No ruling on a preliminary injunction, which would potentially require Uber to temporarily stop working on its self-driving tech altogether, was made today.
This story has been developing since Waymo filed the lawsuit in February. Not long after, Uber unsurprisingly denied Waymo’s claim that it stole self-driving technology. Waymo later asked the court to stop Uber from using alleged stolen self-driving car tech, and most recently, Levandowski stepped aside from Uber’s Advanced Technologies unit.