Judge delays Uber-Waymo trial, slams Uber for withholding evidence

Judge delays Uber-Waymo trial, slams Uber for withholding evidence

Judge delays Uber-Waymo trial, slams Uber for withholding evidence

Waymo is now asking for further information from Uber and an investigation into the contents of Jacobs's letter, Gizmodo reports.

That revelation ― and numerous others related to it ― were contained in a letter that Jacobs' lawyer provided to federal investigators in May.

The hearing instead quickly turned into a forum raising more questions about Uber's ethics and corporate culture. The judge has repeatedly criticized Uber in strong terms for withholding information and he had previously suspected possible criminal behavior.

Alsup concluded that Uber withheld critical evidence that could substantiate Waymo's claim that its competitor stole highly valuable trade secrets to advance its self-driving auto technology. He didn't specify which competitors Uber had targeted but said some of the stolen information involved drivers.

He also claimed that the team used a secretive messaging system on an anonymous server that would delete texts nearly immediately in order "to ensure we didn't create a paper trail that came back to haunt the company in any potential civil or criminal litigation". But the letter, portions of which were read aloud in court, states Uber used the tactics to keep trade secrets off its servers so it could avoid disclosing them in civil and criminal cases. He insisted he didn't know anything about Uber's espionage team trying to steal anything in the USA, explaining he missed the purported mistake because he spent only about 20 minutes reviewing it while he was on vacation with his wife. Uber fired Jacobs in April.

The hearing on Tuesday gave Alsup reason to doubt Uber's testimony.

Waymo said that it had learned about the letter last week from the Department of Justice, according to MSNBC. The judge also called Uber's espionage team "a plumber's unit doing bad deeds".

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Waymo requested the delay on Monday so it could look into whether or not Uber had withheld evidence in the case.

"There was legal training around the use of attorney-client privilege markings on written materials and the implementation of encrypted and ephemeral communications meant to destroy communications that might be considered sensitive", Jacobs said. But the judge wasn't swayed.

"It turns out the server is just for the dummies and the real stuff goes on the shadow system", he said.

Waymo and Uber did not respond to requests for comment. "None of the testimony (Tuesday) changes the merits of the case", Uber said.

In light of the new evidence and allegations that Uber lawyers had been withholding Jacobs's letter, the judge indefinitely delayed the trial, which was set to begin on December 4. He didn't immediately set a new trial date.

Waymo claims that the letter explains why the 14,000 documents stolen by Anthony Levandowski did not appear on Uber's servers. Uber paid $680 million previous year for a self-driving vehicle startup founded by Levandowski after he left Waymo in January 2016.

However, he did say that Uber acquired private code from an overseas competitor, and that Uber tried to identify employees at competitive companies who might leak to them. The markdown stems, in part, from the turmoil that has stained Uber's reputation and opened opportunities for rivals such as Lyft to lure away alienated passengers looking for alternative rides.

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