The high-stakes lawsuit is over some of Google’s trade secrets that have been allegedly stolen by Uber. Last Thursday, the judge who oversaw the case handed it over to federal prosecutors in order to determine whether a criminal charge should be warranted.
Also, Judge William Alsup of US District Court has denied the request of Uber to resolve the case in private arbitration. What’s more incriminating is the fact that both decisions came right after the revelation that Uber is currently under a separate investigation by the US Department of Justice.
Furthermore, Judge Alsup granted the request of Waymo for a temporary injunction. This translates to a cessation of the development of Uber’s program dedicated toward self-driving cars. The decision of Alsup regarding the injunction request has been filed under seal. This means that the full extent of it is unknown.
As for Uber, it considers the action of the judge which was to pass the lawsuit onto prosecutors as the most impairing decision.
In an order that was posted by Judge Alsup, he said that the case has been referred to the US attorney in order to be thoroughly investigated. The investigation entails the possible theft of the company’s trade secrets. This is based on evidentiary record that has been provided by Waymo LLC, the plaintiff, for claims of trade secret misappropriation.
Judge Alsup did not give any opinion as to whether he thinks that a criminal charge is warranted. However, in a case hearing held last week, he revealed how Waymo has an edge over the case against Google’s former star engineer, Anthony Levandowski. Levandowski was part of the Google’s self-driving car research. He is also at the center of this alleged tech theft.
The lawsuit of Waymo claimed that the engineer downloaded thousands of documents from the internal server of Google. Also, he allegedly transferred at least 9 GB of data into his personal drive. This was done weeks before Levandowski resigned from Google.
“It is definitely overwhelming,” Alsup said referring to how the downloads occurred. In a hearing, Alsup said to the attorneys of Waymo that Levandowski has a strong record of misappropriating tech.
A spokeswoman of Uber said that the company won’t be making any comment regarding the judge’s actions. This includes handing over the lawsuit to the office of the US Attorney.
Just last week, rumors that have circulated suggest that the US Justice Department opened yet another investigation for the use of “Greyball,” a software tool of Uber. This software tool is intended to help drivers avoid being detected by local transportation authorities. There are cities that consider such device illegal.
As for the potential injunction decision, another spokeswoman of Uber said that they are yet to release a statement on what they think regarding the issue.