Google’s Waymo Wants a Judge to Block Uber From Using Self-Driving Car Tech

March 10, 2017, 9:44 PM UTC
A self-driving car traverses a parking lot at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California on January 8, 2016.

Waymo, the Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, has asked for a preliminary injunction against Uber that would prevent the ride-hailing company from using what it says is stolen trade secrets.


The motion for a preliminary injunction, follows a lawsuit filed by Waymo in February against self-driving truck startup Otto and its parent company Uber for patent infringement and stealing trade secrets. A hearing to consider the preliminary injunction is scheduled for April 27, according to court documents.

“Competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads, not through unlawful actions,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a prepared statement. “Given the strong evidence we have, we are asking the court step in to protect intellectual property developed by our engineers over thousands of hours and to prevent any use of that stolen IP.”

Waymo also amended its original lawsuit on Friday, adding a new patent infringement claim.

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An Uber spokesperson said the company is reviewing the complaint and directed Fortune to its original statement issued after Waymo filed its lawsuit in February.

“We are incredibly proud of the progress that our team has made,” an Uber spokesperson said at the time. “We have reviewed Waymo’s claims and determined them to be a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor and we look forward to vigorously defending against them in court. In the meantime, we will continue our hard work to bring self-driving benefits to the world.”

The lawsuit alleges that Otto and Uber are using key parts of Waymo’s self-driving technology, specifically related to its light detection and ranging radar. This technology, known in the industry as LiDAR, measures distance using laser light to generate highly accurate 3D map of the world around the car. Otto, which was founded by former Google car and map veterans Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron, was acquired by Uber in August 2016 for $680 million.

The lawsuit makes a number of allegations specifically against Levandowski, including that he downloaded more than 14,000 confidential and proprietary files shortly before his resignation. The 14,000 files included a wide range of highly confidential files, including Waymo’s LiDAR circuit board designs, the lawsuit claims.

The amended lawsuit adds a third infringement claim on a patent for a rotating LIDAR platform that was issued in 2016.

Meanwhile, the motion for a preliminary injunction includes supporting testimony from three Waymo employees, including its director of supply chain, the technical lead on the company’s LiDAR project, and a security engineer.