by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) May 12, 2017
A federal judge has asked for a criminal justice review in the case brought by Alphabet self-driving car unit Waymo accusing Uber of stealing its technology.
Judge William Alsup, in an order posted late Thursday, said he was referring the case to the Justice Department "for investigation of possible theft of trade secrets."
Alsup said he made the recommendation "based on the evidentiary record," but "takes no position on whether a prosecution is warranted."
The case stems from the lawsuit filed in February by Waymo, formerly known as the Google self-driving car unit, which claimed a former manager took technical data with him when he left to launch a competing venture that went on to become Otto and was later acquired by Uber.
Alsup also ordered the civil trial to proceed and granted Waymo's request for a partial injunction -- filed under seal -- which could prevent Uber from deploying the technology.
Uber said in a statement to AFP that it would not comment on the injunction, adding that "the order is currently under seal so we can't speculate about what it says."
The company also said it was disappointed that the judge rejected the ridesharing group's request to settle the case through arbitration instead of trial.
"It is unfortunate that Waymo will be permitted to avoid abiding by the arbitration promise it requires its employees to make," the statement said.
"We remain confident in our case and welcome the chance to talk about our independently developed technology any forum."
Alphabet did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Waymo argued in the lawsuit that a "calculated theft" of its technology netted Otto a buyout of more than $500 million and enabled Uber to revive a stalled self-driving car program.
California-based ride-sharing service Uber acquired commercial transport-focused tech startup Otto late last year as the company pressed ahead with its pursuit of self-driving technology.
Anthony Levandowski, a co-founder of 90-person startup Otto, was put in charge of Uber's efforts to develop self-driving technology for personal driving, delivery and trucking.
Waymo's lawsuit contended that Levandowski in December 2015 downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary files from a highly confidential design server to a laptop.
Chicago IL (SPX) May 12, 2017
The presence of just a few autonomous vehicles can eliminate the stop-and-go driving of the human drivers in traffic, along with the accident risk and fuel inefficiency it causes, according to new research. The finding indicates that self-driving cars and related technology may be even closer to revolutionizing traffic control than previously thought. "Our experiments show that with as few ... read more
Car Technology at SpaceMart.com
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