Waymo, self-driving car unit of Alphabet Inc (parent company of Google) wants $2.6 billion as financial compensation from Uber for allegedly stealing a trade secret, which Google claims is one of the several trade secrets that the cab hailing company has stolen. The compensation figure for the single trade theft was disclosed in the ongoing lawsuit in San Francisco’s federal court. However, the total compensation figure for all the alleged trade thefts has still not been disclosed.
This news has arrived closely on the heels of reports that Alphabet is looking to invest nearly $1 billion dollars in Uber’s arch rival Lyft.
Interestingly, Google is one of the minority stake holders in Uber, which conventionally should have discouraged the US search giant from filing a trade theft case. But, the eagerness to get first mover advantage in the still nascent self-driving car market seems to have got better off the search giant.
The entire sage over trade theft started after Waymo’s engineer Anthony Levandowski left the company to form his own self-driving truck company. This company was later acquired by Uber Inc, which by then had already hired many researchers to work at its self-driving car research center in Pittsburgh. In past, Uber has made no secret about its ambitious plan to switch over to self driving cars in near future.
Now Alphabet should not have had any problem in Uber’s acquisition. But the tech giant alleges that Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving Waymo. These secretive files were soon allegedly accessed by Uber, following the acquisition.
In the lawsuit, Uber has outrightly dismissed this allegation, claiming that Levandowski was immediately fired following Waymo’s acquisition. But Alphabet’s self-driving car unit claims that Levandowski’s resignation makes little difference, since Uber has allegedly already accessed all the confidential files.