After trade secrets, Uber and Waymo now fight over nature of arbitration

By : |April 12, 2017 0

It seems Uber does not want to clean its dirty laundry in public and wants to keep the court proceedings private. Unfortunately, the other party in the case i.e. Alphabet is not in a mood to comply.

Alphabet has filed an opposition request to Uber’s application for arbitration, an alternate form of dispute resolution and wants the lawsuit to play out publicly. In case of arbitration, the matter could be kept private.

The new filing says, “Waymo has not consented to arbitrate this dispute with Uber, and Waymo cannot be coerced into arbitration simply because the trade secrets that Uber stole and that Uber is using in Uber’s self-driving cars happen to come from former Waymo employees. That is not the law.”

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Alphabet filed a lawsuit against Uber in February alleging that parts of Uber’s autonomous driving technology, specifically LiDAR, infringe on patents held by Waymo. According to Waymo, Otto founder Anthony Levandowski took the information while employed at Waymo before leaving to launch an autonomous truck startup, Otto. Uber acquired Otto last August.

On the other hand, Uber’s ground for arbitration is that the lawsuit stems from the actions of Levandowski while he was with Alphabet, and hence it should be covered under Alphabet’s employee agreement with him. Employee contracts at Alphabet state that disputes with the company should be resolved in arbitration.

However, as per Alphabet, Levandowski is not named in the lawsuit against Uber, and it has no standing to assert the employee agreement. “Anthony Levandowski is not a defendant in this case. Nor is this an employment dispute between Waymo and Mr Levandowski,” reads the opposition. “Uber is the defendant in this case, and Uber is responsible for its misconduct.”

“Uber does not like what the public is learning through this litigation about Uber’s illegal and unfair competition,” the latest filing said.

Clearly, Uber’s reputation is at stake, and it needs to find a way out of the mess soon.

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