Waymo's Lawsuit Against Uber Going to Federal Prosecutors

Alphabet's lawsuit against Uber will go to trial

Uber-Waymo Referred For Criminal Prosecution, Private Arbitration Rejected

Due to the nature of the release, the contents of the ruling are still unknown, though the court docket reveals that the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction against the defendant has been partially denied and partially granted.

Other orders justifying the referral remain sealed, so it remains unclear what prompted the judge to recommend the case for federal prosecution.

Uber's attempt to take the case into arbitration was denied by the judge.

Grab the popcorn and set your phone to vibrate: the messy lawsuit between Waymo (aka Google's self-driving auto project) and Uber (aka the ride-sharing company that needs another bad headline like Mark Zuckerberg needs another million dollars) is going to play out in public.

Although not named in Waymo's civil suit against Uber, Levandowski may be facing his own appointment with the gallows.

The most obvious clue comes from the last substantive paragraph in Judge Alsup's opinion.

A quick refresher on the case against Uber: Alphabet, the holding company formed by Google to contain companies like Waymo (formerly just a division within Google dedicated to automated cars) employed Anthony Levandowski as one of the main engineers in charge of Waymo's self-driving-car efforts.

Waymo's lawyers provided two key pieces of evidence to back up its claim: one showing that Levandowski was granted five million Uber shares - now worth over $250m - on the day he left Waymo, January 28, 2016, rather than the day his company, Otto, was acquired.

The US judge overhearing a trade secrets and patent infringement clash between Waymo, formerly Google's self-driving vehicle division, and Uber has referred the suit to federal prosecutors. "I've never seen a record this strong in 42 years", wrote Alsup.

Waymo, according to the judge, had behaved with propriety. Uber previously asserted that there should be an arbitrator and not a jury to decide whether there is some strength in Waymo's accusation of a key engineer stealing trade secrets and giving them to Uber.

In its bid to force Waymo's claims into arbitration, Uber argued that Waymo is legally obligated to arbitrate because the claims arise from two employment contracts Levandowski signed with Waymo in 2009 and 2012 that contained arbitration clauses.

Even though he is not a defendant here, moreover, Levandowski's assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege has obstructed and continues to obstruct both discovery and defendants' ability to construct a complete narrative as to the fate of Waymo's purloined files.

The court takes no position on whether a prosecution is or is not warranted, a decision entirely up the USA attorney. Prosecutors get many tips, but rarely do they come from a judge who is familiar with evidence and the legal elements of what is a crime.

Uber didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but Waymo predictably applauded the decision.

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