Friday, 15 December, 2017

Waymo-Uber trial delayed over new evidence

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The delay of the trial, previously set to kick off December 4, came after Waymo filed a last-minute motion Monday that claimed Uber had "intentionally".

Waymo has asked the court for additional depositions with Uber's former CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber's lawyers to investigate the details contained in the Jacobs letter. He said he was part of the ride-sharing firm's corporate surveillance team, which has now been disbanded.

An Uber representative on Tuesday referred to an earlier company statement, which said Uber "has been waiting for its day in court for quite some time now" and was keen to have a jury hear the merits of the case. U.S. District Judge William Alsup said he takes Jacobs' testimony seriously because prosecutors believe it to be credible.

Alsup postponed the scheduled December 4 start of the Waymo-Uber trial to give Waymo more time to gather evidence.

Waymo, the self-driving auto company spun out of Google's moonshot unit, has accused Uber of recruiting its former employees and stealing its trade secrets in order to advance its development of autonomous vehicles.

Even before Monday's filing, the judge was considering whether or not to inform jurors that Uber had destroyed evidence in anticipation of the Waymo trade secrets lawsuit.

Uber is accused of using cloak-and-dagger tactics.

The evidence at the heart of the postponement was a letter from a former Uber security analyst's attorney to an Uber lawyer.

Levandowski has since been fired by Uber.

Uber had a unit dedicated to stealing trade secrets, according to ex-staffer Richard Jacobs, who testified in court Tuesday. Hackers stole the personal information of 57 million Uber users in October 2016, and Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the theft secret. The case centers around former Google employee Anthony Levandowski, who allegedly stole 14,000 "highly confidential" files before leaving the company to start his own self-driving truck startup.

Alsup said it would be a "huge injustice" to force Waymo to go to trial given the new evidence that surfaced in the case, according Reuters.

The trial was set to begin next Tuesday in San Francisco.

The ride-hailing service is the most valuable private US company, but its aggressive expansion has been dogged by scandals.

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