Google Alphabet Accuses Uber of Ripping Off Technology from Waymo: Court saga Begins


Google’s parent company Alphabet has alleged that Uber has developed a device using intellectual property from its subsidiary Waymo.

Alphabet has filed a case in the court recently claiming that Anthony Levandowski, who was formerly working at Alphabet, had created the device and based it on the technology that was stolen from his employer at Alphabet.

Intellectual Property

Alphabet has filed a case in the court because it wants to prevent Uber from repeatedly creating devices based on the stolen technology or intellectual property. Alphabet has asked for preliminary orders to stop Uber from using the technology for self-driving vehicles. However, Uber has retorted to the accusations stating that the company has not hidden anything and that it has not stolen or infringed any intellectual property or patents connected with the self driving cars.

Waymo Self Driving Minivan

Anthony Levandowski

The entire case now revolves around the acts of Anthony Levandowski, the former employer at Alphabet. Anthony Levandowski left Google in the month of January in 2016. He had taken about 14,000 files from his employer, states the lawsuit from Alphabet. Levandowski then started a new startup organization, called Otto. Otto was later bought over by Uber at a cost of $680 million in the year 2017. Alphabet claims that Otto along with Uber have been attempting to create circuit boards resembling LiDAR that Waymo is creating and which is a top secret project. This has led Alphabet to file the case against Uber as well as Otto.

LiDAR Device

Alphabet has claimed that Uber is hiding the lidar device that was created by Levandowski and that Uber had hidden the lidar technology device. However,,Uber denies it and has stated that it had shown the device, claiming that it  had not done so initially, as the company felt that the device was not necessary with the design being abandoned. Alphabet does not state whether it has seen this device.

Self-Driving Cars

Uber acquired Otto in an effort to develop its self-driving cars. Levandowski has knowledge of vehicles and also employs several engineers who were formerly working on self-driving cars at Waymo. Uber thus obtained expertise that was needed for developing its self-driving cars. Otto has also obtained several other businesses as a startup, and has worked on self-driving trucks, acquiring a lot of talent and new technology. TytoLidar is one of Otto’s acquisitions that offerLiDAR solutions and this can help Uber in creation of complex 3 dimensional maps of the surrounding terrain.


No Arbitration

If Alphabet manages to win the legal battle, it will be a deathblow to the self-driving car ambitions of Uber, especially if Waymo does not allow licensing of its patent to Uber. Alphabet wants the case against Uber to be played out in public view. Uber had moved for an arbitration of the case. However, if the case goes for arbitration, it will be a private one. Alphabet has opposed the request for arbitration.

According to the new filing, Waymo has not agreed to arbitrate in the dispute with Uber and Waymo cannot be forced into arbitration, as the intellectual property that Uber has stolen and is using for its self driving vehicles come from employees who were previously working for Waymo.