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Main » Uber and Waymo Reach Settlement in Self-Driving Car Court Case

Uber and Waymo Reach Settlement in Self-Driving Car Court Case

10 February 2018

As part of the agreement, Uber said it will work to ensure that it won't use Waymo technology.

Alphabet's Waymo division was seeking at least $1 billion over the theft of secrets from its self-driving auto program in the trial before federal judge William Alsup.

The deal was an opportunity for early investors and employees to cash in their shares and gave lossmaking Uber a much-needed financial boost. That's why, according to Uber, it hid its interest and discussions with Levandowski and made legal attempts to indemnify itself against possible future lawsuits.

Khosrowshahi didn't admit guilt, however, saying he doesn't believe any trade secrets made their way from one company to another.

"While I cannot erase the past, I can commit, on behalf of every Uber employee, that we will learn from it, and it will inform our actions going forward", Khosrowshahi wrote.

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Neither company offered details on what those steps will entail. "The evidence at trial overwhelmingly proved that, and had the trial proceeded to its conclusion, it is clear Uber would have prevailed", the statement said. There was one looming certainty for Waymo's parent company: If the case continued, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, known for avoiding the limelight, would be called to testify.

Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for Levandowski, said after the session in the federal courthouse in San Francisco that "although a great many things have been said about Anthony over the last two days, we are confident that he will eventually be vindicated". The lawsuit claimed that Levandowski "downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo's various hardware systems" around six weeks before he resigned from the company and took it to the new budding enterprise, Otto. The U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal probe at the prodding of Alsup, although it hasn't publicly identified the targets of that investigation.

Levandowski worked for Waymo before leaving to start his own autonomous truck company Otto.

Kalanick, who was driven out of the company past year after numerous reports of bad behavior and a series of disastrous public relations blunders (which critics said represented the worst of Silicon Valley's bro culture), also released a statement. But after this morning, Uber is looking more and more like Khosrowshahi's company now. The company has also suffered from turmoil at the top with the ousting of Kalanick in June and a bitter board dispute.

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The settlement ends what could have continued to be a major distraction for two of the biggest players in self-driving cars. It is far from achieving those ambitions.

It's important to understand what Levandowski represented within Uber's self-driving efforts. Although it has acquired the necessary California permit, it still does not have self-driving cars transporting passengers there. Japanese investment firm SoftBank and variety of partners recently took a large stake in Uber but at a new valuation closer to $50 billion.

But before the start of the fourth day of testimony, the companies said they reached a deal.

Waymo accused Uber of using at least one Waymo trade secret in its self-driving cars. The company simply wanted to hire talented scientists and engineers to help lead Uber into a future of driverless cars, the statement said. Kalanick said he signed the agreement without reading because he was busy and didn't have anything to add when confronted with a January 28 2016-email from a Uber executive asking him if he told Levandowski that he'd be indemnified.

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Uber and Waymo Reach Settlement in Self-Driving Car Court Case