Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"Uber Made an Unusual Legal Pledge to the Head of Its Driverless Car Project"

After some of the documents were produced in March our thinking was:
...Combine Kalanick's statements and the corporate culture he created with the fact the central figure in the Waymo lawsuit was in contact with Uber before he left the Alphabet company's autonomous efforts  and even a dull-witted paralegal could make a case for conspiracy,

And that would threaten Uber's existence....
This latest would seem to make the conspiracy point pretty much a lock. More after the jump.

From Bloomberg, June 23:
Uber made an unusual commitment to the engineer it hired to lead its driverless car project: It would cover the costs of legal actions against him over information stored in his head from his previous job at Waymo.

That promise -- buried in the fine print of an otherwise straightforward employment contract for an executive -- emerged in documents unsealed last week in San Francisco federal court.
Waymo alleges that in 2015, Anthony Levandowski and Uber Technologies Inc. hatched a plan for him to steal more than 14,000 proprietary files, including the designs for lidar technology that helps driverless cars see their surroundings. Uber, which acquired Levandowski’s startup, Otto, in August for $680 million, has denied Waymo’s allegations.

The Alphabet Inc. unit’s claims were bolstered Wednesday when it told the court Uber has said that Levandowski informed then-Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick more than a year ago that he had five discs containing Google data. Kalanick told him not to bring the information with him to Uber, and Levandowski said he then destroyed the files, according to the filing.

Even though neither of the men are still at the company -- Kalanick stepped down this week while Levandowski was fired last month -- Uber has to defend itself from Waymo’s suit as well as a possible criminal probe after U.S. District Judge William Alsup asked prosecutors to take a look at the allegations.

Uber’s legal fees promise is further evidence that the talent competition in the driverless car sector is cut-throat. It was a highly risky benefit to offer, according to Jim Pooley, a lawyer at Orrick in Menlo Park, California.

The indemnification document may be “very powerful” evidence that Uber suspected Levandowski would be taking proprietary information from Waymo, said Pooley, who has more than 35 years of litigation experience and is the author of the “Secrets: Managing Information Assets in the Age of Cyberespionage.”

“What Uber did was to leave the door open for Levandowski to use whatever he remembered of Waymo’s trade secret information, so long as he didn’t deliberately memorize it,” the lawyer said....MORE
Sunday, June 25
Alphabet says Travis Kalanick knew one of Uber’s acquisitions had taken Alphabet files