Waymo drops three of its four claims in suit against Uber


Uber's (Private:UBER) former CEO Travis Kalanick wanted to partner with Google (GOOG, GOOGL) in 2015 on self-driving vehicle rideshares, according to emails included in the ongoing legal battle between the companies.

"As set forth in Uber's letter brief, Larry Page has first-hand non-repetitive knowledge of relevant facts", a court filing reads.

In terms of trade secrets, the lawsuit alleges that Uber executive and Otto founder Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files, including proprietary Waymo technology designs, shortly before he resigned from his job at Google's Waymo.

A US judge on Friday ruled that Alphabet Inc's self-driving auto unit Waymo must disclose documents to attorneys representing Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] about Waymo's partnership with Lyft Inc, saying the information could be important in Waymo's lawsuit accusing Uber of stealing some of its trade secrets.

Lidar is a key component that helps autonomous vehicles see their surroundings, and it's at the center of this case.

Alphabet agreed to drop the patent claims ahead of the trial because Uber had stopped using the disputed technology, however, the company said that it could reintroduce the claims if Uber began using them again. Additionally, Waymo dropped all but one of the patent claims because Uber abandoned its "Spider" LiDAR design, which had reportedly infringed upon the Waymo patents. Instead, Levandowski invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination. Levandowski had been with Waymo and is alleged to have downloaded over 14,000 files before leaving the company and joining Uber. Waymo is permitted to reassert its claims if Uber returns to the design that Waymo challenged. Waymo is now pursuing a single patent claim, which is still scheduled to go to trial later this year, along with trade secret allegations.

Reports of a failed relationship between Uber and Google founders that have surfaced may suggest reasons other than the patent for the feud and lawsuit.

Last month, Waymo received a signal from federal court that the patent claims were not its strongest legal argument in the case. Later at the same hearing, he told Waymo lawyers, "you should think a lot about just dropping the patent part of this case".