Uber has been landing itself in a lot of hot water lately, and with a new lawsuit filed yesterday, it's looking as though that water is going to keep on boiling. In a San Francisco federal court, Google alleges that Uber outright stole intellectual property from its spin-off business Waymo, which focuses entirely on self-driving vehicle technology.
Waymo claims that Anthony Levandowski, the man in charge of Uber's autonomous division, took 14,000 of Google's files before he went on to found his own autonomous company, called Otto. Last summer, Uber acquired Otto for an impressive $680 million. Even more impressive is that the acquisition came just seven months after Levandowski left Google.
While Uber might not have been aware that it came into possession of allegedly stolen IP, this is a severe problem it must now face. The IP in these files would have been most of the reason Uber purchased Otto in the first place, with this lawsuit now putting the company in a very peculiar spot.
Interestingly, it could have ultimately been that Google would have never found out about this issue, but because Waymo was accidentally CC'd on an Uber circuit design email, the issue rose to the surface. In this email, a circuit board design that had "a striking resemblance" to Waymo's was seen. Further, it's also said that other employees that departed Google after Levandowski also downloaded trade secrets, adding more fuel to this fire.
Waymo's lawsuit looks to have some extremely incriminating evidence against Uber, so this is going to be one very interesting suit to see play out in the courts.