from ars technica
In a packed courtroom on the first day of the blockbuster Waymo v. Uber trade secrets trial, both sides presented their opening arguments. Charles Verhoeven, Waymo’s top lawyer, said that Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO from 2010 until mid-2017, was not playing fair in his company’s efforts to catch up with Waymo.
“The evidence is going to show that Mr. Kalanick, the CEO at the time, made a decision that winning was more important than obeying the law,” he said. “He made a decision to cheat. Because for him, winning at all costs, no matter what, was his culture and was what he was going to do. The evidence is going to do that he targeted and hired away one of its key engineers that had been with Chauffeur—that’s the name of the program—since its inception.”
Waymo v. Uber began back in February 2017, when Waymo sued Uber and accused one of its own star engineers of stealing 14,000 files shortly before he left Waymo.
The former employee, Anthony Levandowski, went on to found a company that was quickly acquired by Uber. Levandowski refused to comply with his employer’s demands during the course of this case and was fired. Uber has denied that it benefited in any way from Levandowski’s actions.
Uber has significantly more to lose: the outcome of the case will likely determine which company will end up ahead in the cutthroat and rapidly growing autonomous vehicle sector.
Verhoeven likened Uber’s behavior to a video game “cheat code.”
“I didn’t know what cheat codes were because I was too old, I don’t play video games,” he told the jury. “A cheat code is something that allows you to skip to the next level.”
He explained that the jury would see evidence, “written documents, that Kalanick said he wanted to use Levandowski to leapfrog Google.”
“We’re bringing this case because Uber is cheating,” Verhoeven continued.