Sunday, 18 February, 2018

Uber agrees to Pay Waymo $245 Million in Settlement

Waymo minivan One of Waymo's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica
Guillermo Lane | 10 February, 2018, 05:33

According to sources who spoke with Gizmodo, Uber earlier this week considered offering $500 million United States dollars to settle the case with Waymo.

The trial opening Monday in San Francisco federal court comes almost a year after Google spin-off Waymo sued Uber, accusing it of ripping off key pieces of its self-driving auto technology in 2016. Waymo would get its independent review and a 0.34 percent stake in Uber. The latter had accused self-driving technology engineer Anthony Levandowski of stealing trade secrets when he left Google to launch self-driving truck start-up Otto, which was snatched up by Uber. "I remain proud of the critically important contributions Uber ATG has made to the company's future, and I look forward to their inspired efforts becoming a reality on the roads in cities around the world", Kalanick said.

A Waymo spokesperson initially acknowledged the settlement to Business Insider, saying that "we are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology". Uber had to jump into the market as quickly as possible, so it started hiring people to do the job.

The case hinges on whether Uber used apparent trade secrets, a total of eight according to court filings, to advance its autonomous vehicle program.

As Kalanick and Levandowski discussed ways to work together, they exchanged hundreds of text messages.

"I wanted to hire Anthony and he wanted to start a company, so I tried to come up with a situation where he could feel like he started a company and I could feel like I hired him", Kalanick said, choosing his words carefully between long sips of water. So they chose a course of action that would satisfy them both. Uber fired its self-driving chief after Waymo sued, and it is well behind on its plans to deploy fleets of autonomous cars in one of the most lucrative races in Silicon Valley.

"The only thing that's not OK is trade secrets", he said.

As we near the end of the first week of the trial, it seems to be going pretty badly for Uber.

Gunners sweating player fitness for Tottenham derby clash
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Kalanick didn't deny any of the exchanges, although he didn't recall some of them.

When asked whether he had watched the scene, Kalanick said he thought so. It also shows that Uber CEO Khosrowshahi is serious about adopting a less-antagonistic attitude than his predecessor, Travis Kalanick in order to address the various scandals he inherited. Kalanick also testified that he and Levandowski used a Snapchat-like messaging service called Telegraph so some conversations wouldn't be on record.

Waymo contends that the clever solution - let Levandowski create his own company and then buy it - was simply obfuscation for a plot to steal important technology from Waymo.

Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, moved to dismiss the case with prejudice.

What the jury hadn't been told by the judge was that Levandowski has refused through most of the case to cooperate, asserting his constitutional right against self-incrimination, and that he was expected to do the same on the witness stand. Tech entrepreneurs, according to Travis Kalanick, the former chief executive of Uber, riff on big ideas in something they call a "jam sesh". Uber said it had developed its technology on its own. "He had gone from someone I considered a friend to an enemy", Krafcik said, adding that he'd kept in touch with Levandowski after the man had left Google because "we needed to understand what he was doing". To which, Kalanick said, he responded, "Your people are not your IP".

The lawsuit cost Uber precious time in its self-driving auto ambition, which is a key to its long-term profitability.

The sudden turn of events in Waymo's favor suggests that specific details related to its trade secrets were revealed in court sessions that were closed to the media and public.

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