Uber’s ex-CEO knew a self-driving car engineer had Google’s data long before it bought his company, Waymo says


Travis Kalanick Anthony LevandowskiAssociated
Press


Travis Kalanick’s rough week may have just gotten worse.

A court document filed Wednesday night states that Kalanick
was aware in March 2016 that Anthony Levandowski was in
possession of discs that contained data from Google. 

Waymo, which Google spun off, sued Uber over the theft of trade
secrets and patent infringement related to its self-driving car
technology. Waymo is trying to show that Levandowski, a
former engineer in Google’s autonomous car effort, took its
proprietary information with him when he joined Uber, and the
ride-hailing company was aware of and encouraged the theft.
 

 The document may be a mixed blessing for Waymo’s
case.

According to the court document, which was filed by Waymo
but cites Uber’s own stated responses to Waymo’s
questions, 

Levandowski told Kalanick and other
Uber employees in March 2016 that he had five discs containing
information from Google. Kalanick responded by telling him not to
bring any of the information to Uber, and that the company did
not want it, according to the document. Levandowski later told
Uber he had destroyed the discs, according to the filing.

A longtime contributor to Google’s self-driving car
effort, Levandowski left the search giant in January 2016 to
co-found Otto, a startup focusing on developing autonomous
trucks.

Uber bought Otto
 in August for $680 million, but
Levandowski was working with Kalanick and Uber months before
then. 

Waymo has alleged that Levandowski downloaded trade secrets from
Waymo that he used to help jumpstart Uber’s own self driving
car research. 

Regardless of how the revelation in the filing impacts Waymo’s
ability to prove its case, it could further antagonize the judge
in the lawsuit. The court had previously given Uber a
deadline of March 31 to hand over any stolen files or reveal if
they had been destroyed. Uber failed to meet any of the judge’s
deadlines. Indeed, according to the filing, Uber waited until
June 8 to inform the court that it knew the files were
destroyed. 

In the filing, Waymo asked the judge to order Uber to explain why
it shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for failing to meet
those deadlines.

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