Waymo Sues Uber Amid Claims of Stolen Self-Driving Car Blueprints

Friday, 24 February 2017 - 11:35AM
Friday, 24 February 2017 - 11:35AM
Waymo Sues Uber Amid Claims of Stolen Self-Driving Car Blueprints
Image credit: Waymo

The world of technology has always been filled with allegations of idea theft and corporate espionage: it's not uncommon for two companies to develop a similar new technology at the same time (R.I.P. the Zune), but when that product looks suspiciously like its competitors', sometimes it's more than coincidence.

Such may be the case now, as Waymo, the self-driving car technology company that was spun off from Google last year, attempts to sue Uber for trademark infringement and theft of proprietary design documents.

According to a lawsuit filed in Californian federal court today, Waymo's lawyers claim that a former employee of Google, Anthony Levandowski, stole 9.7 GB of confidential design documents before leaving the company to found a new enterprise, Otto, which designs self-driving trucks and is now owned by Uber.



The lawsuit claims, bizarrely enough, that the only reason Waymo became alerted to the theft was because their company was accidentally CC'd in an email between Otto and a component vendor, which contained a detailed design document for a LiDAR circuit board, a crucial piece of tech within Otto's self-driving trucks, which bore a striking resemblance to one of Waymo's own proprietary boards.

It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit progresses, and whether Waymo is successful in their attempts to force Uber to pay damages—Uber isn't exactly a stranger to public ire considering that they've weathered two major scandals in three weeks, and these new allegations don't bode well for its entry into the self-driving car market.

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