Alphabet says Uber is engaging in a coverup

Uber has for the first time laid out its case to prove Alphabet’s allegations of theft of trade secrets are false. And now Alphabet is alleging Uber’s latest claims are part of a pattern of covering up what really happened.

Uber came under scrutiny after it acquired self-driving trucking startup Otto, a business founded by Anthony Levandowski, who previously led Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle business, now called Waymo.

Alphabet claims Levandowski stole 14,000 proprietary files before leaving to start Otto and is suing Uber over allegations the ride-hailing startup misappropriated that technology.

“Rather than do the right thing, Uber took part in a coverup, only firing Mr. Levandowski after their actions were exposed in litigation,” Alphabet self-driving subsidiary Waymo said in a statement.

Uber said in a Wednesday court filing that it made a point of deterring Levandowski from bringing any information over from Alphabet, and included a clause in Levandowski’s employment agreement that explicitly prohibited him from doing so.

Uber also says it had no reason to suspect Levandowski deliberately downloaded any files for improper use, but that any information the engineer had at the time of hiring was just random files he had obtained incidentally over the course of his employment at Alphabet.

At the same time, Uber also said in its latest court filing Levandowski was holding onto these files as leverage to obtain a bonus Alphabet had been slow to pay out.

Alphabet says there was a conspiracy and that Levandowski downloaded files from Waymo in some cases on the same day he met with Uber executives. “Mr. Levandowski was illicitly downloading Waymo’s trade secrets for use at Uber,” reads the latest filing.

The Google parent company claims that on Dec. 11, 2015, Levandowski met with Uber executives and then after the meeting downloaded 14,000 files from Waymo’s servers. On Jan. 4, 2016, Levandowski met with Uber’s then-CEO Travis Kalanick and downloaded some additional Waymo files to a personal device, the filing says.

The filing doesn’t say whether he would have downloaded the files before or after the meeting with Kalanick in the second situation.

Alphabet also alleges Uber’s attempts to keep files out of court based on claims of privilege is actually part of an effort at “cloaking unfavorable facts with privilege” while revealing other pieces of information Uber thinks will be favorable.

Here is Alphabet’s full statement:

“The evidence clearly shows that stolen information has already made its way into Uber’s technology. We’re not convinced by Uber’s attempts to distance itself from a former star engineer it paid $250m to come to Uber while knowing he possessed Waymo’s proprietary information. Rather than do the right thing, Uber took part in a coverup, only firing Mr Levandowski after their actions were exposed in litigation.”

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