Uber reportedly said Wednesday that it never directed a former employee of Google parent company Alphabet to download secret files while at the other tech company.
The ride-sharing company attested to such a point in part of a court filing answering questions officially levied by a judge presiding over a lawsuit between Alphabet and Uber, according to Reuters.
In the lawsuit filed February 23, Alphabet accused Anthony Levandowski, a self-driving car guru, of surreptitiously building his own company while working and making $120 million in incentives at the tech conglomerate. Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, specifically asserts that Levandowski stole 14,000 files worth of classified information during his tenure there and took it to his own startup, Otto, which Uber later purchased for $680 million. The files allegedly included trade secrets, like the company’s blueprint for the LiDAR sensor, which helps a vehicle map the environment around it, and thus is a critical component for autonomous functionality.
Uber, however, vehemently denies the accusations, especially the contention that it told Levandowski to steal the proprietary files.
“This is consistent with the complete lack of evidence that such files exist at, or have ever been used by, Uber,” the company said Wednesday, according to Reuters. “[Then-CEO Travis] Kalanick emphatically told Levandowski that Uber did not want any such information.”
Uber cut ties with Levandowski in May, and while he is not a defendant in the case, he is still the crux of the lawsuit. The official trial is set to commence in October. (RELATED: Uber Is Leakier Than The Trump Administration)
The latest claim from Uber is just one of several interesting turns for the lawsuit.
Levandowski, for example, refused to testify in March during certain portions of the legal proceedings where he was asked to offer testimony. His lawyers advised him not to say anything out of fear of incriminating himself.
A clerical mistake unmasked the name of one of the co-founders of Otto, naturally a close associate of Levandowski. His name, which Uber adamantly attempted to keep out of the spotlight, was redacted in every area of the 68-page document, except for the last page.
Roughly a month later, after turning down Uber’s appeal to have the dispute settled in private arbitration, U.S. District Judge William Alsup referred the case to a U.S. attorney for a criminal investigation.
The formal request, coupled with Uber’s latest claims of innocence, shows that the legal battle over the autonomous vehicle technology is starting to heat up, much to Uber’s chagrin.
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