Uber faces trial against Google, possible criminal probe
May 15, 2017
Uber and Google parent Alphabet are heading to trial over a lawsuit alleging Anthony Levandowski, who eventually became the ridehailing giant’s self-driving chief, stole thousands of confidential files before he left his job as an engineer at Waymo, Google’s autonomous vehicle arm, to found a startup that Uber eventually acquired. A federal judge in San Francisco issued an order on Thursday denying Uber’s request to arbitrate the lawsuit, which was based on an arbitration clause in Levandowski's contract with Google. The judge also referred the case to the US Attorney’s office for a criminal investigation of the alleged theft of trade secrets.
Levandowski left Waymo last summer to found self-driving truck startup Otto, which was acquired by Uber a few months later for a reported $680 million. He promptly became head of Uber's self-driving car unit. But after Waymo filed suit in February, Levandowski stepped down from that role at the end of April, writing in an email obtained by Business Insider that he’d stay on in a reduced capacity but would no longer work on LiDAR, the sensors used for autonomous vehicles that are at the center of the Waymo lawsuit.
The trial is sure to grab attention as it plays out—both because it involves two major players racing to develop self-driving technology and because Uber continues to get itself in trouble.