Waymo’s Self-Driving Technology Different From Its Own, Says Uber

Blasting the Alphabet Inc unit’s claim that it profited from stolen files in the race to roll out the first driverless car, Uber Technologies Inc said that its self-driving sensor technology was “fundamentally different” from Waymo’s.

despite Waymo’s claim that its former executive, Anthony Levandowski, stole them before joining Uber, the car rental company said in a federal court filing that 14,000 of Waymo’s computer files on autonomous technology never ended up on its servers.

In order to stop it from using trade secrets and other intellectual property at the center of the case, Waymo sued Uber in February, seeking a preliminary injunction to this effect. After Levandowski downloaded the files before his departure to form a company that Uber then acquired, Uber was able to quickly scale up its autonomous program, Waymo said.

Levandowski leads Uber’s self-driving program.

In a field that includes established carmakers, little-known start-ups and major technology companies, the rivals are vying to bring self-driving cars to the masses.

“The record shows that Uber never possessed – and never used – any information Mr. Levandowski allegedly took from Waymo,” Uber wrote in its filing.

Due to concerns about the possibility of a criminal case being filed, Levandowski will not testify and he has sought his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Levandowski is the central witness in the case.

Uber, which has never denied that Levandowski took the files, claims it cannot force him to handed over the allegedly stolen documents and Levandowski himself has not done so.

To see if the documents are in its possession, a more thorough search of its computer systems has been ordered to be done on Uber by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco. “You haven’t searched well enough,” he told Uber’s lawyer at a hearing on Wednesday.

Should he not hand over the documents, Uber had leverage over Levandowski it had not used, such as threatening to fire him, Alsup has also suggested.

“If you cannot find them in your files there is going to be a preliminary injunction. You’re not denying it, no one is denying he has the 14,000 files,” Alsup said. “You keep on your payroll someone who took 14,000 documents and is liable to use them.”

On the other hand, alleging it incorporated without authorization a smaller competitor’s patented technology into its Rift headset, Facebook Inc’s virtual reality unit Oculus VR is facing a lawsuit.

For infringing a 3D imaging patent owned by the VR headset maker ImmersiON-VRelia, Techno View IP Inc, a Newport Beach, California-based technology licensing firm, sued Facebook and Oculus on Thursday.

Techno View was allowed to litigate the patent on its behalf by ImmersiON-VRelia, which has offices in Spain and California, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Delaware.

In an unrelated lawsuit brought over its VR technology by video game developer ZeniMax Media Inc., Facebook is facing a $500 million verdict and this lawsuit comes amidst such an environment.

Oculus used copyrighted computer code developed by video game designer John Carmack while employed at ZeniMax, a Dallas federal jury in February found.

(Adapted from Reuters)

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