Travis Kalanick’s rough week may have just gotten worse.
A court document filed Wednesday night states that Kalanick was aware in March 2016 that Anthony Levandowski was in possession of discs that contained data from Google.
Waymo, which Google spun off, sued Uber over the theft of trade secrets and patent infringement related to its self-driving car technology. Waymo is trying to show that Levandowski, a former engineer in Google’s autonomous car effort, took its proprietary information with him when he joined Uber, and the ride-hailing company was aware of and encouraged the theft.
The document may be a mixed blessing for Waymo’s case.
According to the court document, which was filed by Waymo but cites Uber’s own stated responses to Waymo’s questions, Levandowski told Kalanick and other Uber employees in March 2016 that he had five discs containing information from Google. Kalanick responded by telling him not to bring any of the information to Uber, and that the company did not want it, according to the document. Levandowski later told Uber he had destroyed the discs, according to the filing.
A longtime contributor to Google’s self-driving car effort, Levandowski left the search giant in January 2016 to co-found Otto, a startup focusing on developing autonomous trucks. Uber bought Otto in August for $US680 million, but Levandowski was working with Kalanick and Uber months before then.
Waymo has alleged that Levandowski downloaded trade secrets from Waymo that he used to help jumpstart Uber’s own self driving car research.
Regardless of how the revelation in the filing impacts Waymo’s ability to prove its case, it could further antagonize the judge in the lawsuit. The court had previously given Uber a deadline of March 31 to hand over any stolen files or reveal if they had been destroyed. Uber failed to meet any of the judge’s deadlines. Indeed, according to the filing, Uber waited until June 8 to inform the court that it knew the files were destroyed.
In the filing, Waymo asked the judge to order Uber to explain why it shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for failing to meet those deadlines.
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