Uber, Waymo reach self-driving auto settlement

Nichole VegaFeb 11, 2018

In the case, Uber was accused of stealing Waymo trade secrets relating to driverless vehicle hardware, via its acquisition of Otto, a driverless truck startup founded by former Waymo engineer Andrew Levandowski. For former Uber C.E.O. Kalanick, meanwhile, remains on Uber's board, and received a $1.4 billion payout after selling a third of his investment in the ride-hail company to SoftBank.

Waymo is deploying its own self-driving rideshare programme at the same time and has ordered "thousands" of vehicles from Fiat Chrysler for its service.

Most damning for Uber, however, is Waymo's claim that Uber, and then-CEO Travis Kalanick knew about or even directed Levandowski's actions.

The news was first reported by Bloomberg, but has been confirmed by numerous reporters attending the trial. Sources told Gizmodo that Khosrowshahi had proposed a $500 million settlement but Alphabet agreed to the lower amount in return for Uber promising not to use Waymo hardware or software.

Friday's settlement will not affect other legal cases related to those events. At the firm's current valuation of $72 billion, that's about $250 million.

So why did Google settle so quickly?

"You were not able to complete your investigation by April 11th, were you?", Waymo's lawyer, Charles Verhoeven, asked Friedberg Wednesday. "I think what Uber is saying is that it should have done much more vetting of OttoMotto and its IP to ensure compliance with the law of trade secrets", Keyes adds. Keyes specializes in cases involving trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, unfair competition and false advertising.

While both sides are pitching this as a win, this is certainly a best-case scenario for Uber given the circumstances.

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

Comment The man responsible for dragging the reputation of one of the tech world's biggest names through the mud, into the gutter, and in circles around raw sewage has claimed today's out-of-court Waymo-Uber settlement vindicates him.

Kalanick, who was driven out of the company a year ago after numerous reports of bad behavior and a series of disastrous public relations blunders (which critics said represented the worst of Silicon Valley's bro culture), also released a statement.

A statement was released from Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi regarding the settlement, which Khosrowshahi said was about finding a way to "set the course for the future of the company". Alphabet was an early investor in Uber in 2013, although previous year it also invested in Uber's competitor Lyft.

Instead, Khosrowshahi said that the acquisition of Levandowski's startup, Otto, could have been handled differently.

Waymo's case against Uber had so far been cinematic, but touched little on actual secrets. The company said other former employees had also stolen files before leaving to join Uber or Otto in what it called "a concerted plan to steal Waymo's trade secrets and intellectual property".

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