Waymo on Friday dropped some of its patent claims against Uber in its landmark lawsuit.
The self-driving car startup, which is a Google spinoff, is dropping three of its four patent claims against Uber’s lidar technology. Lidar, a kind of radar technology that uses lasers instead of radio waves, is the key component in self-driving cars that allows the vehicles to “see” the world around them.
Waymo is continuing to pursue its other lidar-related claim. The company has charged that the lidar system Uber is currently working on, codenamed “Fuji,” infringes that patent.
The self-driving car company dropped the three patent claims to narrow the focus of its lawsuit, Waymo said in a statement. In addition to the patent claims, Waymo is also suing Uber over alleged trade secret violations and unfair competition.
Uber had a different take on Waymo’s move, viewing them as a sign Waymo can’t make its case. An Uber spokesperson sent Business Insider the following statement:
“Waymo’s retreat on three of their four patent claims is yet another sign that they have overpromised and can’t deliver. Not only have they uncovered zero evidence of any of the 14,000 files in question coming to Uber, they now admit that Uber’s lidar design is actually very different than theirs. Faced with this hard truth, Waymo has resorted to floating conspiracy theories not rooted in fact, doing everything they can to put the focus on sensation rather than substance.”
In its lawsuit, Waymo’s charged that a former Google self-driving car executive, Anthony Levandowski, took proprietary lidar information with him when he left Google and created his own self-driving trucking startup called Otto. Uber acquired Otto and put Levandowski in charge of its autonomous car division. Waymo accuses Uber of using Waymo’s technology in its self-driving cars.
Uber fired Levandowski in May after Levandowski declined to help the ride-hailing giant with its defence against Waymo’s claims. Instead, Levandowski invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination.
A Waymo spokesperson sent Business Insider the following statement:
“We found after fighting for discovery a device created by Anthony Levandowski at Uber that infringed Waymo patents. Uber has assured the court in statements made under penalty of perjury that it no longer uses and will not use that device, so we have narrowed the issues for trial by dismissing the patent claims as to that device, with the right to re-file suit if needed. We continue to pursue a patent claim against Uber’s current generation device and our trade secret claims, which are not at all affected by this stipulated dismissal. We look forward to trial.”
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