In another indication that self-driving cars are about to change how we live, the trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo – Google’s self-driving car unit – took a strange turn. On November 28, the presiding judge decided to delay the trial after receiving a game-changing letter, despite the fact that jury selection had been set to begin the very next day.
Significant Developments in Self-Driving Car Lawsuit
As we detailed earlier in our blog, Google and Uber have been fighting each other in court over their self-driving car programs. The lawsuit has centered on a Google engineer, Anthony Levandowski, who defected to Uber after downloading thousands of documents containing trade secrets of how Google’s autonomous vehicles “see” their surroundings.
The trade secrets trial was nearing when the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern California forwarded a letter that they had found to the presiding judge in the case. The letter was written by the attorney for a different Uber employee, Richard Jacobs, who had been the company’s manager of global intelligence.
The letter detailed an entire department in Uber that was solely dedicated to finding and taking trade secrets, computer code, and other leads from competitors in the self-driving car industry. This included recruiting employees from competitors and actively hampering lawsuits against Uber for trade secret violations. Everything about this department was meant to be secretive: They used internet servers that were independent from Uber, special cell phone encryption programs, and avoided writing anything down.
Judge Delays Self-Driving Car Trial
The letter contradicted numerous things that the Uber lawyers had said in the preliminary stages of the trial and should have been disclosed in discovery. This prompted the judge to not only delay the trial so Google’s attorneys could review the new evidence; it also led the judge to berate Uber’s attorneys.
“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,” the judge said. “If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial.”
Role of Federal Attorneys Hint at Something Even Bigger
A tiny detail in the letter’s discovery hints at something even more important: The letter was sent to the judge by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Federal prosecutors rarely get involved in civil lawsuits. The fact that they had found the letter is a strong suggestion that a federal investigation into Uber’s trade practices is underway, and has been for a long time.
Case Highlights the Strength of the Self-Driving Car Market
Uber’s nefarious efforts to dominate the self-driving car market highlight how huge they think the market will be in the near future. The fact that they are putting so much time, effort, and money into the venture, and that they are willing to go beyond the law in the process, is an indication of how much money they expect to gain, showing how life-altering they think self-driving cars will be.
Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Self-driving cars will not only make commuting quicker and easier, they will also make it safer by reducing the number of distracted drivers, and therefore the number of car accidents we have on the roads of Missouri every day. Until self-driving cars are everywhere, though, we are guaranteed to continue having car crashes.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident, you deserve to be compensated. Reach out to the car accident and personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office by calling us at (816) 875-9373 or by contacting us online.