Waymo (part of Alphabet — the parent of Google) and Uber are now engaged in an intense legal battle about intellectual property rights regarding self-driving technology. This battle was enjoined when Uber hired away a leading technologist from Waymo.

As reported by Knowledge@Wharton:

“A federal judge’s orders last week in a lawsuit by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, against ride-hailing app company Uber may have launched a major rethink on how the automobile industry braces for competition and protects its intellectual property (IP). Alphabet subsidiary Waymo had accused Uber of stealing trade secrets and patent infringement by hiring Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who formerly led Google’s driverless car project, and buying a firm he had founded after leaving Google.”

“Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered Levandowski to turn over some 14,000 documents he allegedly downloaded before he left Google and granted a preliminary injunction Waymo sought to prevent Uber from using know-how Levandowski brought to the firm. Judge Alsup also referred the case for a federal criminal investigation. Uber has since taken Levandowski off its driverless car project and asked him to comply with the court order or risk termination of his job. Meanwhile, Levandowski has remained silent on the matter, citing the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.”


Here is an interesting 30-minute podcast on this matter, featuring Wharton’s John Paul MacDuffie, Santa Clara University’s Dorothy Glancy, and University of Pennsylvania’s R. Polk Wagner.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.