The Uber-Waymo trial scheduled to begin Dec. 4 has been postponed, after a bombshell allegation that Uber operated a covert unit tasked with stealing code and trade secrets from its competitors.
US district judge William Alsup ordered three Uber employees to appear today, in what was supposed to be the final pretrial conference, after the US Justice Department informed the court that Uber withheld key evidence—most notably a letter from an attorney representing Richard Jacobs, Uber’s former manager of global intelligence, alleging that its Market Analytics unit existed acquire “trade secrets, code-based & competitive intelligence.”Previously:
“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,” the visibly angry judge said in court. “If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial.” Alsup had referred the lawsuit for a criminal probe in May.
In a court filing on Nov. 27, Waymo alleged that Uber “intentionally withheld the Jacobs Letter and related materials to prevent Waymo from discovering material evidence in this case.” Waymo also asked to take a new deposition of Uber founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick, and of Angela Padilla, Uber’s deputy general counsel and recipient of the Jacobs letter.
According to tweets from James McPherson, a lawyer and autonomous driving analyst attending the pretrial hearing, Jacobs was terminated by Uber in the spring of 2017. His attorney then sent a letter to Uber making the allegations about the Market Analytics unit. Jacobs eventually settled out of court with Uber for $4.5 million, and is now cooperating with the company. That put him in the awkward position of disputing his own letter.
A Waymo attorney asked Jacobs under oath: “Your lawyer sent letter that you approved alleging that Market Analytics exists solely to acquire code and trade secrets from competitors, yes?” according to McPherson. Jacobs reportedly responded: “I disagree with this now. I have no firsthand knowledge. No knowledge at all.”
Jacobs also described Uber’s deliberate efforts to “prevent sensitive info from legal discovery.” “There was legal training around the use of attorney client privilege markings on written materials, and the implementation of encrypted and ephemeral communications, intended to both protect and destroy communications that might be considered sensitive,” he said, according to the Financial Times. Employees were told to use phone or video calls for sensitive conversations, and use the messaging app Wickr, which has encrypted, self-destructing messages....MORE
Waymo v. Uber: "Meet the judge who codes — and decides tech’s biggest cases"
Double Hit To Uber: Judge Alsup Denies Uber’s Request for Stay, Gives Waymo Fatherly Advice; Magistrate Judge Corley Approves Waymo Request to Peek at Dirty Laundry
And many more. Use the search blog box, keyword Waymo, if interested....MoFo lawyer Arturo Gonzalez told Alsup that complying with court orders to turn over information to Waymo, protecting Uber’s confidentiality, and not stepping on Levandowski’s rights is akin to navigating a “minefield.” Gonzalez noted that Levandowski -- but not Uber -- appealed Alsup’s ruling requiring Uber to turn over a report containing key evidence in the case....MOREMoFo lawyer?
This is the third time the mofo's have dissed Judge Alsup:
Uber Suffers Legal Setbacks In Europe, U.S.In the Waymo case Uber's bid to make their arguments in private was turned down by the judge overseeing the action but even worse for Levandowski, hizzoner is using his Federal Judgeship powers.*April 1
Uber: Judge Says He May Grant Waymo's Request For An Injunction Against Uber's Self Driving Efforts
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....