Waymo: “We’re Bringing This Case Because Uber Is Cheating”

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.

More here.

Posted in IPRs, Law, Technology and tagged , , , .

4 Comments

  1. Companies such as Uber and Waymo are on the rise to be successful taxi businesses in the future with affordable costs. Uber and Waymo are more known taxi companies because of the amount of advertising these two businesses have while Lyft has a poor amount of customers that follow their business. As of 2018, Uber is the most known business from all three of these taxi companies and a business that will continue to rise in the future. However, there has been reports that Uber owner, Travis Kalanick, has been finding way to promote the business by cheap ways to conduct more customers to use Uber rather than any other taxi company in America. In some events, he used cheap costs to represent why people should use Uber but then increased these costs later on in the business for a higher profit than Waymo. Also, Kalanick mentioned how he used “cheat codes” to elevate his business against Waymo and overcome them with more customers day by day. I believe that Uber and Waymo are at equal lines and both of these businesses will succeed with similar numbers in the future when it comes to amount of customers, drivers, and profit. Uber could be more popular today than Waymo but Waymo could always figure out a solution to promote more drivers or customers with better wages and cheaper trips.

    Futhermore, I believe that Uber has a high competitive advantage against Waymo because Uber came up with the idea first to have a cheaper taxi company for people and assume that they stole the idea from Waymo. Uber has more experience than Waymo and knows how to control its business however, Uber tends to steal some ideas from Waymo and I think that Uber should be creative with their business, and come up with their own objectives. Uber is a huge, talented company with technology and they will do whatever it takes to overcome Waymo, and succeed better with population and profit. Uber can afford their own technology without stealing ideas from Waymo and use that technology to have a variety of advantage against Waymo. However, if it’s true that Uber committing a cheating crime against Waymo and use their files, then Uber’s business would decrease slowly and Waymo would end up being the top taxi company in the future. Also, Waymo would add another thing to the list that Uber has done wrong to them and this could be remembered for an extended period of time to realize that Uber isn’t the right taxi company for people to use. If Uber creates its own ideas and attempts to have better advantages than Waymo, then Uber would retain being the top taxi company and maintain a popular business that it has today.

    Finally, from this situation, I believe that Uber is at fault for this issue because stealing information from a different taxi company will hurt their company and cause less people to contact Uber drivers for rides. Customers wouldn’t prefer to do business with a taxi company that uses “cheat codes” and steals another taxi company’s idea, and would rather do business with a company that is creative and offers fair deals toward them. According to Waymo, they mentioned how Uber disregarding the law and focusing more toward winning competitions for a successful business, and to overcome advantages toward Waymo. I think that this isn’t fair to Waymo because they could have been a better taxi company than Uber, if Uber didn’t steal ideas from them and followed the law as a fair business. I believe that Uber should have just been creative with their own ideas so that they wouldn’t create drama with Waymo and have different ideas that other companies can learn from in the future. Waymo should have great success in the future because they know some advantages that they have to overcome Uber’s business and would learn from what Uber obeyed against the law to figure out ideas for more customers than Uber. Overall, I believe that Uber is in a tough situation with this incident against Waymo and will have to overcome ideas that would release all of this drama, and find a solution that would cause them to retain being a highly successful taxi company in America.

  2. This case between Waymo and Uber will be going down into history because of how immense the future of this industry will turn out to be. The winner of this case will be able to receive a patent for an automatic taxi service and will rise to the top of the industry to dominate the future of taxi services. The reason that this case is occurring is because of Waymo believes that Uber has stolen intellectual property in order to get an advantage in the competition. Uber did not really go inside and stole their files. All Uber did was buy out the company Anthony Levandowski was creating with the files that he took from Waymo previously. Levandowski was the one that stole the files so Waymo should be focused on that but instead they are wasting their time on trying to take Uber down just because Uber took advantage of an opportunity that was given to them. Even though Uber seems to made a bad decision for buying out a company that was made from information that was stolen from Waymo, Waymo had several months to deal with this problem prior to Uber buying it. After Uber decided to buy Levandowski’s company Ottomotto it is stated in the article, “Waymo: “We’re bringing this case because Uber is cheating”” that Uber regretted to bring Levandowski into their company because of his sketchy behavior that he does. I agree with Michael that it has become a real problem of who actually came up with the idea of the self- driving cars and any other new technology that is being made with it.
    The future of the car industry and taxi service will cause a lot less accidents to occur on the roads. Along with less accidents, the driving will be more efficient once most cars become driverless. With efficiency, people can get to their locations faster at a cheaper cost since it takes less time and gas to get to the next location. If Uber were to commit these crimes, Uber would take a big hit and they will have a bad name to their reputation to do something very immoral against the country. Uber could have figured out other ways to receive the information without just buying out other companies that have the information especially those with information that is not even legal. It is not amusing watching big companies like Uber try to cut corners like that since it can cause a fallout and effect the economy in a negative way. Many customers will feel uncomfortable that they use a service that stole information from a different taxi company just to keep up with them. Waymo will be able to rise to the top of the taxi industry and will always be aware of when a different company may come after this intellectual property.

  3. When using Uber to share a ride and be dropped off at your destination, we often forget that not everyone thinks this company knows what they’re doing. Waymo, the self driving car company is suing Uber, accusing a former employee of stealing their files and distributing them with the people he now works for before he left Waymo. His name is Anthony Levandowski, and he refused to participate in the case in any way, shape or form. He was promptly fired and now Uber is left to defend themselves in order to prove that they did not receive any illegal files while Levandowski was working for them. Waymo claims that Uber was using their files to find out how they did business, so they could replicate these actions and make more money. They accused the CEO of cheating and attempting to create their own self driving cars to use for business purposes. Uber however, denies this and or having any knowledge of Waymo’s practices or technology. They believe Waymo is attempting to extort money from the company and their claims of stealing files is nothing but counterfeit. If Uber is so quick to dismiss these claims, I believe that they are innocent of any unintentional wrongdoing. If Waymo is so afraid that their files could fall into the wrong hands, why didn’t they take precautions so no employees could walk out the door with them? If they are looking for someone to blame, they only have themselves to at this point. Uber is definitely not interested in using self driving cars for their service. Even if they were, they would still be years away from being able to pick up and drop off passengers without fear of the vehicle crashing and killing the rider. Levandowski likely didn’t know what he was doing, and didn’t think the company would fly off the handle at the first sign of file sharing. Perhaps if Waymo spent more time working on their technology and not accusing others of stealing it, they wouldn’t have to worry about what Uber may or may not have seen because of their former employee. It doesn’t matter which side is to blame, both companies have a responsibility to their customers to provide new and different ways of transporting items on the road. If you believe someone is attempting to steal your ideas and pass them off as their own, you definitely have a right to pursue a lawsuit against them. However, when presenting your case in a court of law, it’s imperative that you have proof of the alleged crime, documents from the former employee’s resignation, and testimonies from witnesses who saw what happened. Waymo seems more interested in gaining a profit rather than seeking justice from what may have happened or not. These are serious accusations and a company should not accuse another of cheating unless they’re positive that the other is to blame. Employee negligence is one thing and industrial espionage is another, best left to professionals who know the difference between the two. Waymo should be more focused on the worker who may have leaked company secrets rather than taking it all out on Uber, who most likely did not know anything about it.

  4. In the article, Cyrus Farivar, brings up some interesting points about the Waymo vs Uber case trial. Both Uber and Waymo are trying and competing to be the first company to put self-driving cars on the market. I agree that this case does play a large role in who will come out ahead in the market, but with Uber hiring Levandowski, it led to their ultimate down fall. It was unethical to steal files and, as Waymo would say, “cheat”. The case ended with Uber apologizing and no longer going to use any technology that Waymo was using. This brought Uber back in the race. Another set back to Uber was recently, I heard about the crash of one of Uber’s self driving cars. This crash was when someone had come out into the street and was hit. This may have not been the self driving cars fault entirely but it does raise questions if it were a child who ran in the street on accidents. These set backs brings Waymo to a bigger advantage. Another crash happened in Arizona that killed someone in an Uber self driving car. This was not Uber’s fault as the light was said to be yellow and someone came out. This raises the question that if there was a driver in the seat of the self driving car would they have been able to avoid this situation? Maybe if they reacted fact enough. This doesn’t look good for Uber’s name in the self driving car market. Self-driving cars still have a long way to come in technology, information, and research.
    This will be great for the market and budgets for both sides. If completely successful and far down the line in time. They would no longer have to pay for drivers. This will be a huge profit increase for business. This would put some out of a job but it might open up a job like maintenance team for maintaining the car if it were to break down or need gas along its route.
    I think once self-driving cars becomes a true reality everyone will be hesitant at first to be in them. It will definitely be a cultural and national change. Personally, I would be hesitant to be in a self-driving car but if I warmed up to it and got used to it. It would grow on me to like it. In the article it points lout that it would save thousands of lives. This is very true. Car crashes and accidents happen all the time. This is usually never a car problem it is the driver who is responsible who wasn’t driving right, not paying attention or even worse distracting themselves. These distractions list from eating, texting, calling, and multi-tasking. This also helps people who can’t drive such as those paralyzed in their legs, those intoxicated, and others who can’t drive. This will be a major decrease in accidents and deaths for drunk drivers.

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