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Waymo drops most patent claims in Uber lawsuit

July 12, 2017 0 Comments

On Friday, a few “big breaks” developed in the case between Waymo and Uber over self-driving vehicle technology. With these, the “scope of the case” is coming into focus, with both parties preparing for a trial scheduled for October this year.

Waymo narrowed its case and dropped three of the four patent claims it made against Uber; those dropped were U.S. Patent Nos. 8,836,922, 9,285,464, and 9,086,273.


According to TechCrunch, those three particular patents were “related to an earlier version of Uber’s autonomous lidar design nicknamed ‘Spider’” that Uber no longer uses. The remaining patent claim is related to a newer version of lidar technology named Fiji currently used by Uber.

Uber has been “granted the ability to depose Alphabet CEO Larry Page” ahead of the trial by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley. Uber’s lawyers are expected to question Page about “why the company chose not to partner with Uber, a company it had invested in, as part of its autonomous driving efforts.”

Uber “also seeks to depose Alphabet chief legal officer David Drummond,” a board member from August 2013 until August 2016, with Corley granting the deposition “unless Waymo plans to call him as a witness” in the case.

Waymo filed their lawsuit back in February, alleging that former employee Anthony Levandowski stole 14,000 documents containing confidential information and trade secrets before leaving the company and founding self-driving company Otto. The company was later acquired by Uber.

An Uber spokesperson said in a statement: “Waymo’s retreat on three of their four patent claims is yet another sign that they have over-promised and can’t deliver. Not only have they uncovered zero evidence of any of the 14,000 files in question coming to Uber, they now admit that Uber’s LiDAR design is actually very different than theirs. Faced with this hard truth, Waymo has resorted to floating conspiracy theories not rooted in fact, doing everything they can to put the focus on sensation rather than substance.”

In addition to dropping three of their patent claims, U.S. District Judge William Alsup has asked Waymo to “narrow its theft of trade secret claims from more than 100 down to 10 that could be put in front of a jury.”

Alsup has instructed both parties involved to simplify “the scope of the case” so that both can be “adequately prepared” with their strongest claims come October. At the same time, Uber and Waymo have been arguing over what evidence is allowed in the trial.

Waymo continues to insist that Uber knew about the confidential information Levandowski stole before leaving the company. In a statement released Friday, a Waymo spokesperson said:

“Anthony Levandowski led Uber’s self-driving car program for over a year after stealing 14,000 confidential Waymo files. While Uber has decided it is now advantageous to disavow him, the truth is Uber supported Levandowski’s 5th Amendment claims to avoid self-incrimination well into this litigation and continues to obstruct the production of key documents every step of the way. We initiated legal action because we came across evidence showing stolen Waymo files made their way into Uber’s technology, and despite Uber’s attempt to distract with constantly changing storylines, Waymo has continued to build its case with more evidence uncovered during expedited discovery. We look forward to sharing this evidence in court.”

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