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Waymo Pegs Uber Trade Secret Theft Harm At $2.6B

21 September 2017

Earlier this month, a federal court in California delivered Alphabet's self-driving auto unit, Waymo, a major victory: It ordered that Uber had to turn over a "due diligence" report that it commissioned at the time it purchased Otto, the self-driving truck company started by Anthony Levandowski after leaving Google. The trial date for the high-stakes legal battle is set on October 10.

Alphabet Inc's Waymo unit is seeking about US$2.6bil (RM10.91bil) from Uber for the alleged theft of one of several trade secrets in a lawsuit over self-driving cars, a lawyer for Uber said. It had been redacted from court filings, as Recode reports.

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The figure was revealed by an attorney for Uber during a court hearing today, according to Reuters.

In the lawsuit, Waymo has accused Levandowski of downloading 14,000 proprietary files before quitting to start his own self-driving vehicle company that Uber soon acquired.

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"Waymo should not and can not be forced to waive claims for misappropriation of trade secrets in addition to the nine trade secrets Waymo has designated for trial", the company said. Uber has maintained that it had nothing to do with Levandowski's actions and that none of the stolen files made their way over to Uber. This high-stakes legal battle underscores both companies' interest in the market. It's only for one of the nine trade secrets, something that has raised questions about the amount sought for the remaining trade secrets. To be clear, should Alphabet win on its claims, it wouldn't receive the total amount of damages for every trade secret. Suppose $2.6 billion is the highest, it would receive only that much.

Waymo's allegations have already led Uber to fire Levandowski, who had directed Uber's efforts in the nascent yet pivotal field of self-driving cars.

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Jury selection is scheduled for October 10, but as mentioned, Alphabet is trying to delay the trial, arguing it needs more time to assess newly obtained data that might be critical to the case. And the Alphabet self-driving unit stressed it needed additional time depose a number of key players in the case, including another session with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, it said in its filing.

Waymo Pegs Uber Trade Secret Theft Harm At $2.6B