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Staring Down a Barrel, Uber Ordered to Hand Over Acquisition Report

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 09, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's not quite a smoking gun; more like a smoking engine in the self-driving car case against Uber.

A federal magistrate has ordered the company to turn over a due diligence report, which the company had when it bought technology that allegedly belonged to Google's self-driving car division. Google's Waymo is suing Uber, and the trial judge seems impatient about the defendant stalling.

"They have a right to get to trial on Oct. 2, and you're doing everything you can to throw roadblocks in the way," Judge William Alsup said.

Blaming the Clerk?

Uber had asked the judge to stay the case, pending an appeal involving related patent claims. Alsup denied the request, just as he denied an earlier motion to send the case to arbitration.

Hamish Hume, representing Uber, barked up the wrong tree when he suggested the court clerk made a mistake that caused the appeal to be delayed.

"I don't think you should be accusing our staff," Alsup barked back. "You sat on your hands, in my opinion."

Stolen Tech?

Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that engineer Anthony Levandowski stole more than 14,000 files when he left Waymo. Levandowski then started his own company and shortly thereafter sold it to Uber for $680 million.

Levandowski has refused to answer questions about the alleged theft, citing his Fifth Amendment privilege. The judge told Uber to do "whatever it can to ensure that its employees return 14,000-plus pilfered files to their rightful owner," including threatening to terminate Levandowski if necessary.

Uber then fired Levandowski, who is defending himself in a separate arbitration proceeding. At the hearing in federal court, Levandowski's lawyers said the judge crossed the line in his "termination" order.

"I'm not taking back a single word," Alsup said. If the due diligence report does not turn out to be a smoking gun against Uber, it seems the judge is hot enough.

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