Dude's got a problem.
From the New York Times:
Google Self-Driving Car Unit Accuses Uber of Using Stolen Technology
Waymo, the self-driving car business spun out of Google’s parent company, claimed in a federal lawsuit on Thursday that Uber was using intellectual property stolen by one of Google’s former project leaders.
In a federal court filing in San Francisco, Waymo said Anthony Levandowski, who runs Uber’s autonomous car division, downloaded 14,000 files from Google a month before leaving to start his own self-driving car company, Otto. Uber acquired Otto in August for $680 million, about seven months after Mr. Levandowski left Google.“Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time, and expense of independently developing their own technology,” the company said in the filing. “Ultimately, this calculated theft reportedly netted Otto employees over half a billion dollars and allowed Uber to revive a stalled program, all at Waymo’s expense.”
Uber did not respond to requests for comment.In its filing, Waymo said it was inadvertently copied on an email from one of its suppliers with drawings of Uber’s circuit board design for its lidar technology, short for light detection and ranging, ” that are laser-based sensors used in self-driving cars. Waymo said Uber’s design bore “a striking resemblance” to its proprietary and highly secret design and infringed on Waymo’s patents.Waymo also said that a number of Google employees, who subsequently left to join Mr. Levandowski at Google, downloaded additional trade secrets before departing. These included supplier lists, manufacturing details and technical information, Waymo said.The suit accuses Uber of stealing trade secrets, infringing on patents and competing unfairly in an effort to catch up on autonomous vehicle technology.Otto was the brainchild of a handful of former Google employees who pioneered autonomous vehicle research at the search giant. Mr. Levandowski, who had been at Google nine years, led that effort.
He is a prominent figure in the world of self-driving vehicles, having worked on the technology for more than a decade and achieving some degree of renown as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2004, when he designed a self-driving motorcycle that was entered in the Pentagon’s first contest for autonomous vehicles. Later, when Google began working on self-driving cars, it acquired Mr. Levandowski’s start-up, 510 Systems....MORE
And from Bloomberg:
Alphabet's Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets
Lawsuits multiplying amid talent war over nascent technology
Complaint cites ‘striking resemblance’ in competing designs
It took Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo seven years to design and build a laser-scanning system to guide its self-driving cars. Uber Technologies Inc. allegedly did it in nine months.Update:
Waymo claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that was possible because a former employee stole the designs and technology and started a new company.
The complaint intensifies Alphabet’s rivalry with Uber, one of the Internet giant’s largest investments, and reflects an escalating talent war in the burgeoning autonomous-driving arena as tech and auto companies alike compete for skilled engineers. Legal fights are multiplying after General Motors Co. and Uber valued upstarts -- each with just a few dozen employees -- as worth hundreds of millions of dollars in separate acquisitions last year.
Waymo accuses several employees of Otto, a self-driving startup Uber acquired in August for $680 million, of lifting technical information from Google’s autonomous car project. The “calculated theft” of Alphabet’s technology earned Otto’s employees more than $500 million, according to the complaint in San Francisco federal court.
“We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully,”’ Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler said in an e-mail.
The claims in Thursday’s case include unfair competition, patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation.
“Fair competition spurs new technical innovation, but what has happened here is not fair competition,” Waymo said in the complaint. “Instead, Otto and Uber have taken Waymo’s intellectual property so that they could avoid incurring the risk, time, and expense of independently developing their own technology.”
Waymo was inadvertently copied on an e-mail from one of its vendors, which had an attachment showing an Uber lidar circuit board that had a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s design, according to the complaint.
Anthony Levandowski, a former manager at Waymo, in December 2015 downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary and confidential files, including the lidar circuit board designs, according to the complaint. He also allegedly created a domain name for his new company and confided in some of his Waymo colleagues of plans to “replicate” its technology for a competitor.
“Misappropriating this technology is akin to stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company,” Waymo wrote in a blog post explaining the suit.
Levandowski left Waymo in January 2016 and went on in May to form Otto LLC, which planned to develop hardware and software for autonomous vehicles.
"These are very serious allegations, if true," said Tyler Ochoa, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. "The trade secret case by itself is a blockbuster."...MORE
I forgot a couple hat tips in the Waymo/Uber post immediately below, here they are;
On the New York Times story, Alphaville's Kadhim Shubber who retweeted the Times' Mike Issac, co-writer on the Times piece. On the Bloomberg story. ZeroHedge....