Last Thursday, Waymo (Google’s self-driving car division) filed a lawsuit against Uber for allegedly copying its self-driving car technology and violating its intellectual property rights.
How did Google find out?
Apparently, one of the suppliers of LiDAR components accidentally emailed Google engineers an attachment of machine drawings of Uber’s LiDAR circuit board. They were shocked to see how it resembled their unique LiDAR design.
How did this happen?
Waymo conducted a forensic analysis, in which it was found that the former Google employee Anthony Levandowski who is the current top executive at Uber, hacked into Waymo’s design server six weeks before his resignation and downloaded 9.7 GB of highly confidential data which included blueprints, design files and testing documents. Along with Levandowski, other employees who left Google to join Otto and Uber also stole highly confidential information like supplier lists, manufacturing details and so on.
Google vs Uber
In a post published by Waymo last Thursday, they explained how everything was done as a part of “a concerted plan to steal Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property.” They added,”Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn’t make this decision lightly.”
On Friday, Uber replied denying all allegations,“We have reviewed Waymo’s claims and determined them to be a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor and we look forward to vigorously defending against them in court.”
Uber acquired Otto only six months after its existence and paid $680 million which is a huge amount for a company with “a few assets and no marketable product.”
Mark Terry, an intellectual property lawyer said, “I don’t see how the defendant thought they were going to get away with this, especially today when everything is logged and stored.”