Waymo settles dispute with Uber

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Uber has finally reached a settlement with Google's company Waymo after the latter claimed that Uber stole self-driving technology ideas from it.

Uber has agreed to settle the lawsuit brought against it by Waymo for theft of some of the company's trade secrets.

It claimed Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before going on to lead Uber's driver-less programme the following year.

As with most settlements, the truce required some compromise by both sides.

The initial settlement conditions were reportedly rejected as a "non-starter" by Uber in a case that was eventually escalated to the US Attorney's Office. The people asked not to be identified because the settlement talks were confidential.

The chauffeur-driven auto reservation service also expressed its "regrets" and pledged to use only its own technologies in the development of its autonomous vehicle, seen as the grail of public transport of the future and likely to generate Billions of dollars in revenue. But US District Judge William Alsup had refused to allow Waymo to use that figure in the trial.

"This has the look of two companies trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat", said Dan Handman, a Los Angeles lawyer who specializes in trade secrets for the firm Hirschfeld Kraemer.

My job as Uber's CEO is to set the course for the future of the company: innovating and growing responsibly, as well as acknowledging and correcting mistakes of the past. "The optics of someone not wanting to incriminate himself in front of a jury in a civil case are bad", Handman said. Uber later fired Levandowski as allegations against him surfaced.

The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a separate, criminal investigation into the trade secrets. Uber bought Levandowski's start-up, Otto, for $680 million in 2016. Uber denied using any Google technology to build a fleet of self-driving cars.

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Going to trial, Waymo seemed to have had the advantage since a USA judge last May ordered Anthony Levandowski, the former Waymo employee at the center of the case, to return to his former employer the confidential files that he would have taken away when leaving the company. It's a deal that one of Uber's own attorneys acknowledged the company now regrets.

"As Uber's statement indicates, no trade secrets ever came to Uber", the statement said.

Khosrowshahi's statement added that Uber does not believe that his company acquired trade secrets from Waymo or used any proprietary information in its self-driving technology.

Waymo accused Uber of stealing key technologies for the development of autonomous vehicles.

"If you are an Uber investor, you should be pleased with the outcome, given what could have happened if they had lost", said Rohit Kulkarni, managing director of SharesPost, a research group focused on privately held companies. Uber had planned to have self-driving cars in 20 cities by the end of 2018, 50 cities by 2019 and 150 by 2020, according to documents shown in court. Kalanick said, "I don't know, I don't remember". Given that landscape, along with the fact that Alphabet CEO Larry Page could have had to testify next week, the settlement makes sense for Waymo, she said.

Alphabet had another reason to settle.

Uber acquired Otto previous year for $680 million, and made Levandowski the leader of its self-driving auto development effort. The settlement gives Alphabet an additional 0.34 per cent of Uber's outstanding stock.

"We are taking steps with Waymo to ensure that our Lidar and software are our only work", he said.