USA judge rejects Uber's bid take Waymo case to arbitration

Waymo scored two victories in its autonomous trade secrets fight vs. Uber on Thursday

Google specifically alleges that its former self-driving auto chief, Anthony Levandowski, surreptitiously built his own company while working and making $120 million in incentives at the company. Uber later purchased Otto for $680 million. The Harvard Law graduate has experience in trials involving high-profile technology companies, including a 2012 patent and copyright infringement case pitting Oracle against Google. Alsup also noted that Levandowski's exercise of his Fifth Amendment rights "has obstructed and continues to obstruct both discovery and defendants' ability to construct a complete narrative as to the fate of Waymo's purloined files".

The motion issuing a partial injunction was sealed. But the judge rejected that request, meaning the case will play out in a public court, risking further image damage for Uber. "We welcome the court's decision today, and we look forward to holding Uber responsible in court for its misconduct", the statement said.

Uber had sought to persuade Alsup to send the dispute between Waymo and Levandowski to private arbitration hearings.

LiDAR technology, which is one of the key parts of a lawsuit Waymo has leveled against Uber, relies on laser beams to bounce off a car's surroundings, essentially helping the self-driving vehicle to "see" other cars, pedestrians and obstacles in its path.

The self-driving auto company, in a lawsuit filed in February at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, claimed that these files contained Waymo's LiDAR (a laser-based scanning and mapping technology) circuit board designs. Waymo said Uber used its tech to avoid years of costly research.

The news comes less than a month after Andrew Levandowski, the Uber engineer and former Google employee at the heart of Waymo's suit, stepped down from his position as the head of the company's self-driving technology division.

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"We remain confident in our case and welcome the chance to talk about our independently developed technology any forum".

"Indeed, it appears Waymo can make out its case-in-chief without any reference to either agreement", he wrote in refusing to compel arbitration. Much of Waymo's case is built on the actions taken by Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who allegedly downloaded 14,000 files from Google before leaving the company.

Uber Technologies Inc goes before a USA judge on Wednesday to fight for the right to continue work on its self-driving auto program, the latest. But Judge Alsup read them as implicit accusations - and found them to be "unwarranted". "Its decision to bring separate claims against defendants in court was not only reasonable but the only course available".

Uber will undergo an investigation related to the accusations of trade secret theft, a US judge ordered on Thursday.

A U.S. judge has called for a criminal investigation into allegations by Google's driverless vehicle unit Waymo that Uber stole its technology.

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