Released letter details alleged misconduct by Uber

By Allen Cone  |  Dec. 16, 2017 at 10:41 AM
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Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The judge in a lawsuit by Waymo against Uber released a letter by the attorney for a former Uber security analyst who accuses his former employer of illegal activities.

On Friday in San Francisco, federal District Judge William Alsup unsealed the 37-page letter from the attorney for Richard Jacobs. The latter details the former Uber employee's experiences at the company from March 2016 through April 2017.

After Jacobs left the company, the lawyer sent the letter on May 5 to Angela Padilla, Uber's deputy general counsel.

Waymo, the autonomous-vehicle unit of Google parent company Alphabet, alleges Uber stole its self-driving car technology, claiming Uber's former star engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files from Waymo before leaving to set up self-driving truck company Otto, which Uber later acquired.

Waymo is suing Uber for $1.86 billion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The case was scheduled for trial earlier this month but was delayed until February because of the revelation of the Jacobs letter. Alsup learned about the letter in late November from the U.S. Department of Justice, which is conducting a criminal investigation into Uber.

"We're going to have to put the trial off because if even half of what's in that letter is true it would be a huge injustice to force Waymo to go to trial," Alsup said at a hearing on Nov. 28.

The letter includes alleged details about Uber's use of "illegal intelligence gathering" and its practice of destroying records. The letter is largely redacted, but other portions provide a look at Uber's alleged tactics to obtain trade secrets and destroy evidence.

"These tactics were employed clandestinely through a distributed architecture of anonymous servers, telecommunications architecture, and non-attributable hardware and software," the letter reads.

It also describes contact between the company and one of its teams in Pittsburgh, Penn., as "using ephemeral communications, non-attributable devices, and false attorney-client privilege designations with the specific intent of preventing the discovery of devices, documents, and communications in anticipated litigation."

Uber settled with Jacobs in August, agreeing to pay its former employee at least $4.5 million. The company has said that Jacobs sought to extort the company with his letter.

"While we haven't substantiated all the claims in this letter - and, importantly, any related to Waymo - our new leadership has made clear that going forward we will compete honestly and fairly, on the strength of our ideas and technology," Uber said in a statement.

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