Saturday, April 1, 2017

Uber: Judge Says He May Grant Waymo's Request For An Injunction Against Uber's Self Driving Efforts

From the introduction to yesterday's "In Waymo v. Uber, honing the craft of litigation gamesmanship" (GOOG):
I was going to put something together on Anthony Levandowski's use of the 5th amendment in a civil matter and some of the implications of doing so but didn't get to it. In the meantime here is a look at some high-buck lawyering and tactics of litigators...
I was thinking more along the lines of inferring guilt--in a criminal proceeding an inference from the assertion of the 5th amendment right is strictly verboten and judges so instruct the jury, whereas in most state courts (California being a notable exception) and U.S. federal court,  a civil pleading of the 5th may be assumed to be an admission of guilt.

But yeah, another implication is: if you piss off a tech savvy* federal judge you've got a problem.

From Reuters:

Waymo-Uber judge says may grant injunction if key witness doesn't testify
By Alexandria Sage and Dan Levine | SAN FRANCISCO
The U.S. judge overseeing a blockbuster case over self-driving car technology suggested Uber could face an injunction if a key Uber executive does not testify for fear of exposing himself to criminal prosecution, according to a transcript seen by Reuters.
Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), sued ride services company Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] last month, alleging that a former Waymo executive, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 confidential documents before leaving the company to subsequently join Uber. Waymo said Uber benefited from those documents.

Levandowski is not a defendant in the case, but he is a central figure in the high-profile litigation that pits two Silicon Valley technology giants against each other, both of which are vying to dominate in the competitive autonomous vehicles sector.

Waymo is seeking a preliminary injunction from the court, which would temporarily stop Uber from using any of the allegedly stolen intellectual property. A hearing is scheduled for May 3.
Uber, which has said the allegations are baseless but has not yet responded to Waymo's complaint in court, has argued that the trade secrets issue should be sent to arbitration.

"You represent somebody who's in a mess," U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco told the attorney for Levandowski, Miles Ehrlich, during a closed court hearing on Wednesday. Reuters saw the transcript of that hearing.

Ehrlich had told the court that based on the "potential for criminal action" against Levandowski, the engineer would be asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination....MORE
*From Wednesday's "Judge Alsup Wants Uber & Waymo To Teach Him How To LiDAR Prior To Self-Driving Car Case":
Judge William Alsup certainly continues to make himself known for how he handles technology-intensive cases. In techie circles, he's mostly known for presiding over the Oracle/Google Java API copyright case, and the fact that he claimed to have learned to program in Java to better understand the issues in the case (in which he originally ruled, correctly, that APIs were not subject to copyright protection, only to be overturned by an appeals court that simply couldn't understand the difference between an API and functional code)....