Uber threatens to fire engineer accused of stealing self-driving secrets

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |   May 19, 2017 at 7:56 AM
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May 19 (UPI) -- Ride-sharing service company Uber Technologies Inc. threatened to fire an engineer it accused of stealing trade secrets, court records indicate.

Waymo, the self-driving car subsidiary of Google's Alphabet Inc., has sued Uber, alleging that former Waymo executive Anthony Levandowski took 14,000 confidential documents with him when he left the company to join Uber. Some of that information, court filings say, allegedly includes material pertinent to engineering found in Uber's Lidar system, key sensor technology in self-driving vehicles.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered an injunction last week, calling on Uber to prevent Levandowski from working on self-driving technology, to keep all Uber employees from using the material in question and to have Levandowski return the documents to Waymo by May 31. Uber told Levandowski to comply, or face firing. Levandowski's lawyers asked for a modification of the judge's order on Thursday, suggesting it forces their client to choose between employment and waiver of his constitutional rights against self-incrimination.

Levandowski left Waymo in 2016 and founded Otto, a self-driving vehicle company Uber bought for $680 million. The suit has become a high-profile trade secrets case; Uber admits that Levandowski took Waymo documents but says it has not used Waymo technology in its own designs.

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