Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber is heating up.
The Alphabet Inc.-owned self-driving car startup is suing the ride-hailing giant alleging theft of trade secrets and unfair competition. Reuters reports that, as of Friday, Waymo has been ordered to disclose due diligence documents about its recent deal with Lyft so Uber can assess the startup’s claims that it suffered monetary damages from Uber’s actions.
Waymo alleges that one of its former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded 14,000 confidential files before leaving the company, then used them to set up Otto, a self-driving truck company that was later acquired by Uber. After the acquisition, Levandowski was put in charge of the autonomous car division, but he has since been fired for declining to help in the defense against Waymo.
Uber competitor Lyft joined forces with Waymo this year to push self-driving cars into use. Uber requested information about the deal as part of its litigation defense, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on Friday ruled that Waymo must disclose the documents for Uber’s perusal. She said Lyft did not have to produce any documents.
Also Friday, Waymo announced that it will be dropping three of its four patent claims against Uber, which U.S. District Judge William Alsup has previously said were without merit. However, it will maintain one patent claim that relates to a circuit for its lidar technology.
Lidar is a radar technology that uses lasers instead of radio waves. It’s the mechanism that allows self-driving cars to “see” other cars and obstacles around them. According to Waymo, Uber’s “Fuji” lidar system infringes on Waymo’s patent for the technology.
Uber sees this concession by Waymo as a sign that the startup can’t make its case and knows it.
“Not only have they uncovered zero evidence of any of the 14,000 files in question coming to Uber, they now admit that Uber's lidar design is actually very different than theirs,” Uber told Business Insider.
Waymo had a different explanation. “We found after fighting for discovery a device created by Anthony Levandowski at Uber that infringed Waymo patents,” the startup told Business Insider. “Uber has assured the court in statements made under penalty of perjury that it no longer uses and will not use that device, so we have narrowed the issues for trial by dismissing the patent claims as to that device, with the right to re-file suit if needed.”
The trial is scheduled for October.