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Waymo settles dispute with Uber

Waymo settles dispute with Uber

Uber Technologies Inc is paying US$245 million to Google's self-driving vehicle spinoff to end a legal brawl that aired out allegations of a sinister scheme, which tore apart the once-friendly companies.

"The prospect that a couple of Waymo employees may have inappropriately solicited others to join Otto, and that they may have potentially left with Google files in their possession, in retrospect, raised some hard questions", Khosrowshahi wrote. "We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology", Waymo said in its statement.

Uber had on Monday offered to settle the case for US$490 million just before the start of the trial, but that agreement did not provide Waymo with enough assurances that its technology would not be improperly used, two people familiar with the thinking of both parties in the lawsuit said.

According to a Bloomberg report, a spokesman for Waymo said the company "reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo's intellectual property now and into the future".

"I've told Alphabet that the incredible people at Uber ATG are focused on ensuring that our development represents the very best of Uber's innovation and experience in self-driving technology".

Including the settlement, the cost of that Otto deal is now almost $1 billion, without factoring in Uber's legal bills in the case.

"As we change the way we operate and put integrity at the core of every decision we make, we look forward to the great race to build the future", he said in the statement.




After a Waymo lawyer finished grilling him, Kalanick turned to a more emotional tale under friendly questioning from an Uber attorney, casting himself as a "little brother" betrayed by an older and more powerful sibling.

Waymo had argued that Uber colluded with a former Google engineer to steal technology related to laser-based sensors, a key component in self-driving cars. "Knowing everything we know, Uber regrets ever bringing Anthony Levandowski on board", Uber lawyer William Carmody told the jury in his opening statement. The payout likely spared Levandowski from some public scrutiny, as, according to The Verge, he was expected to invoke the Fifth Amendment when he took the stand.

Uber wound up firing Levandowski last May after he refused to relinquish his constitutional rights against self-incrimination when questioned about whether he stole trade secrets before leaving Google. Convinced that Google was going its own way, Kalanick chose to start a self-driving vehicle division within Uber by hiring top engineers specializing in robotics from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 2015.

Uber is still facing an ongoing as the result of questionable activities that its former and current employees were alleged to have engaged in, possibly including illegal wiretapping, hacking, and more. However, Khosrowshahi also admitted that Uber's acquisition of Otto "should have been handled differently", and he acknowledged the new relationship shared by the two companies.

Since Dara Khosrowshahi took over past year as Uber CEO from co-founder Travis Kalanick (who appeared as a witness earlier in the week), he has had to now apologize twice for his company's behavior.

Its legal battle with Waymo may be over, but the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal probe into Uber's alleged theft of trade secrets.

In a released shortly after the Friday court session concluded, Kalanick said: "had the trial proceeded to its conclusion, it is clear Uber would have prevailed". The judge in the case didn't allow that figure into the trial.


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