Uber, Waymo clash over key evidence in self-driving trial
SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has asked a U.S. judge to exclude evidence from an upcoming trade-secrets trial about how a former engineer downloaded thousands of confidential files from Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo self-driving car unit before eventually joining Uber.
Uber’s request was contained in a series of court filings late on Wednesday, in which both companies sought to shape how the high-profile trial will proceed next month.
The companies are also disputing whether jurors should hear evidence from Alphabet’s chief legal officer David Drummond, and from Bill Gurley, a prominent Silicon Valley investor. Both Drummond and Gurley have previously served on Uber’s board.
Waymo claimed in a lawsuit earlier this year that former engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving to set up a self-driving truck company, which Uber acquired soon after.
Uber denies it used any of Waymo’s trade secrets. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Oct. 10.
In a court filing, Uber said it interviewed an Alphabet employee who described the 14,000 files as “low value.”
Six of the nine Waymo trade secrets at issue in the trial were not contained in the 14,000 files at all, Uber said. Of the remaining three, one is mentioned vaguely, and the other two could easily have been replicated without reference to the downloaded files.
In response, Waymo said jurors should be allowed to decide for themselves how important the materials are.
“Both Levandowski and Uber recognized the value of the contents within these stolen documents,” they wrote.
Beyond the downloads, Uber said it should be allowed to argue that Waymo brought the lawsuit in bad faith to slow down a competitor. As evidence, Uber wants to tell jurors that Drummond failed to fully disclose Waymo’s autonomous vehicle plans while he served on Uber’s board.
Waymo said Drummond did nothing improper, and his actions have no relevance to the trade secret claims in the case.
For its part, Waymo wants to cite testimony from Bill Gurley, a Benchmark Capital general partner who served on Uber’s board before resigning earlier this year.
Benchmark subsequently sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, seeking to force him off the company’s board, but that case was moved to arbitration.
Gurley testified in a deposition that he would not have approved acquiring Levandowski’s company had he known the facts of Levandowski’s downloads. Uber said Gurley’s testimony is too speculative to allow into evidence.
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