Google’s Robocar Lawsuit could Kill Uber’s Future and Sent Execs to Prison

Currently Uber is in a tight spot with many ongoing allegations against the company. “Now, on top of political criticisms of CEO Travis Kalanick and accusations of a sexist corporate culture, the company must worry about a legal dispute that could cost it a truckload of money, kill its self-driving research, and even land more than one executive in prison” (Marshall, 2017).

The current allegation laid against Uber is of an employee stealing information from Google and utilizing it for Uber’s development. “The lawsuit, which Waymo filed Thursday, alleges former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski secretly downloaded 14,000 files proprietary technical files before leaving to found self-driving truck startup Otto. Uber acquired Otto last summer and put Levandowski in charge of its self-driving efforts” (Marshall, 2017). The lawsuit is based on the fact that information was stolen from Google and is being used illegally by Uber to gain an edge against Google’s own self-driving effort called Waymo.

The precedent for this accusation Google is making towards Uber is found under the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. “This important new legislation creates a federal, private, civil cause of action for trade-secret misappropriation in which ‘[a]n owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action… if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce’” (Cohen, n.d.). The trade secret Google claims were research done for Waymo and used for research on one of Uber’s latest acquisitions, Otto.

Uber’s earliest response does not find the claims to be substantial and thinks the lawsuit will not come to action. “An Uber spokesperson calls Waymo’s lawsuit a ‘baseless attempt to slow down a competitor’” (Marshall, 2017). As this case has just been filed, more information will be needed to understand what the future implications are.


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