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  1. #1
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    [EN] Google sues Uber over theft of self-driving car technology

    A Stray Email Caused Google’s Waymo to Sue Uber and Otto Over Stolen Tech.

    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.

    Kirsten Korosec
    Feb 24, 2017

    Waymo, the Google self-driving project that recently spun out to become a business under Alphabet, has filed a lawsuit against self-driving truck startup Otto and its parent company Uber for patent infringement and stealing trade secrets.

    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, which was filed in U.S. District Court of Northern California on Thursday, 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.

    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.

    "This calculated theft reportedly netted Otto employees over half a billion dollars and allowed Uber to revive a stalled program, all at Waymo's expense," the lawsuit states.

    An Uber spokeswoman said the company takes the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and will review the matter carefully.

    When Waymo was just a mere project housed under Google's moonshot division X, it used LiDAR from Velodyne. The engineers at Google later developed its own LiDAR, a medium-range version which is located on top of the car. More recently, Waymo's team of engineers developed two new categories of LiDAR: a short range and a long range LiDAR. Waymo's self-driving cars now have three LiDAR sensors—a redundancy that is unmatched in the industry.

    What's most striking about the contents of the lawsuit is how Waymo learned of the alleged theft. According to the lawsuit, Waymo was copied on an email from one of its LiDAR component vendors. The email included attached machine drawings of an Uber LiDAR circuit board. Waymo says in the lawsuit that the circuit board bears a striking resemblance to its own highly confidential and proprietary design and reflects Waymo trade secrets.

    Through the email, Waymo learned that Otto and Uber are building LiDAR components and possibly whole systems. The email also allegedly shows that Otto and Uber's LiDAR systems infringe multiple LiDAR technology patents awarded to Waymo, according to the lawsuit.

    The lawsuit also details claims that Levandowski took "extraordinary efforts" to raid Waymo's design server and then conceal his activities.

    Fifteen Google engineers ultimately left the self-driving project to join Otto. The lawsuit also claims these former Googlers downloaded additional "trade secrets" before their departure, including supplier lists, manufacturing details, and other technical information.

    http://fortune.com/2017/02/23/waymo-sues-uber-otto/

  2. #2
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    Meet The Former Google Engineer Who Allegedly Stole Secrets For Uber

    By Ryan Mac, Brian Solomon and Alan Ohnsman

    In Oct. 2016, when Anthony Levandowski showed FORBES a demo of Uber Technologies’ nascent self-driving car project, he was less than a year removed from Google. At 36, Levandowski had spent almost nine years at the search giant, spearheading its autonomous vehicles unit. But in Jan. 2016, he abruptly left and cofounded a new self-driving startup called Otto Trucking, which Uber bought less than seven months later for a reported $680 million.

    During that interview, Levandowski, vice president of Uber’s advanced technologies group, went out of his way to say that his current project was not built on the intellectual property of anything he had worked on at Google.

    “We did not steal any Google IP,” he told FORBES at the time. “Just want to make sure, super clear on that. We built everything from scratch and we have all of the logs to make that—just to be super clear.”

    On Thursday, Waymo, the self-driving technology subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, sued Uber alleging that the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company had stolen proprietary technology and infringed on its patents. Levandowski, who is not personally named as a defendant in the suit, is accused of taking data and plans from the company’s self-driving car project just weeks before he resigned to start his own venture—and then bringing those plans to Uber.

    In its lawsuit, Waymo said that in Dec. 2015, Levandowski “downloaded more than 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary files,” which he allegedly transferred to an external drive before attempting to reformat his laptop “to erase any forensic fingerprints.” In that data, Waymo claimed, was information about the components of the advanced LiDAR laser system both companies now use for their self-driving test vehicles. Waymo added that “this calculated theft reportedly netted Otto employees over half a billion dollars and allowed Uber to revive a stalled program, all at Waymo’s expense.”

    “We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. Levandowski did not answer his phone when called by FORBES to discuss the suit and did not return an email request for comment.

    Those accusations punctuate what has been a tumultuous month for Uber, which began with CEO Travis Kalanick departing President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council after heavy criticism from employees and a user boycott. On Sunday, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer who left the company in December, published a viral blog post that detailed a year at the company pockmarked by discrimination and sexual harassment that went unaddressed by her superiors. That post led to even more accusations about Uber’s internal culture, prompted an apology from Kalanick and kickstarted an independent investigation by the company.

    Uber’s latest controversy centers around Levandowski, a long-time Google employee and serial entrepreneur who has spent his career focused on robotics and artificial intelligence. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a master’s degree in industrial engineering and operations research, he founded 510 Systems in 2001 to explore the largely uncharted area of autonomous vehicle technology. In 2005, he entered a self-driving motorcycle into the DARPA Grand Challenge, where he competed against and caught the attention of Sebastian Thrun, widely seen as the godfather of Google’s driverless car project.

    While Levandowski joined Google in 2007 to work on mapping technology, it wasn’t until 2011 that the search giant acquired the company he founded, 510 Systems and its sister company Anthony’s Robots. That deal was done in secret, with some employees signing non-disclosure agreements that prevented them discussing the acquisitions, according to one report. 510 became core to Google’s self-driving technology and in May 2012, Levandowski took part in the first government-run autonomous vehicle test, which took place along the Las Vegas strip.

    Levandowski would remain at Google—which would later reorganize itself as Alphabet and then separate its self-driving project into Waymo—where he was known internally as a star engineer. In Jan. 2014, he became the target of anti-Google protesters, who visited his Berkeley, Calif. home to protest what they believed to be unnecessary surveillance. That demonstration aside, Levandowski remained relatively unknown and quietly went about his work as he developed 11 patents at the company, including at least six that involved the proprietary LiDAR technology that Waymo claims Uber has co-opted.

    He left Google in January and founded Otto the next month, telling online publication Backchannel: “I’m excited about bringing robots into the market, about having the most effect in the world.”

    Waymo, however, calls into question the timing of Levandowski’s move. In its lawsuit, it said Levandowski “attended meeting with high-level executives at Uber’s headquarters” on Jan. 14, 2016, and then resigned from Waymo without notice on Jan. 27. His startup Otto was officially formed on Feb. 1.

    “Beyond Mr. Levandowski’s actions, we discovered that other former Waymo employees, now at Otto and Uber, downloaded additional highly confidential information pertaining to our custom-built LiDAR including supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information,” Waymo said in a blog post on Thursday. “Months before the mass download of files, Mr. Levandowski told colleagues that he had plans to ‘replicate’ Waymo’s technology at a competitor.”

    When FORBES interviewed Levandowski in October 2016, he attempted to explain how a startup like Otto, on its own and then as part of Uber, could spin up its own functional self-driving technology in less than a year. He said that this was his fourth time building an autonomous car technology stack.

    “We understand what not to do and where not to waste time, because we have experience from having tried it before and it didn’t work,” Levandowski said. “And we have experience trying things that do work, so we’re just doing the things that do work, and focus on that.”

    With reporting from Miguel Helft.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianso...y-levandowski/

  3. #3
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    A note on our lawsuit against Otto and Uber





    Waymo Team
    Feb 23

    Competition in the self-driving space is a good thing; it pushes everyone to develop better, safer and more affordable technology. But we believe that competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads, not through unlawful actions.

    Recently, we uncovered evidence that Otto and Uber have taken and are using key parts of Waymo’s self-driving technology. Today, we’re taking legal action against Otto and its parent company Uber for misappropriating Waymo trade secrets and infringing our patents. We wanted to share more context on why we made this decision.

    Our investments in self driving cars and LiDAR

    Our team formed in 2009 with the goal of making transportation safer and easier for millions of people. We’ve made tremendous progress since then, developing custom software and hardware in-house, dramatically improving the performance of our self-driving system, accumulating millions of miles of experience and completing the world’s first truly autonomous ride on public roads.

    One of the most powerful parts of our self-driving technology is our custom-built LiDAR — or “Light Detection and Ranging.” LiDAR works by bouncing millions of laser beams off surrounding objects and measuring how long it takes for the light to reflect, painting a 3D picture of the world. LiDAR is critical to detecting and measuring the shape, speed and movement of objects like cyclists, vehicles and pedestrians.

    Hundreds of Waymo engineers have spent thousands of hours, and our company has invested millions of dollars to design a highly specialized and unique LiDAR system. Waymo engineers have driven down the cost of LiDAR dramatically even as we’ve improved the quality and reliability of its performance. The configuration and specifications of our LiDAR sensors are unique to Waymo. Misappropriating this technology is akin to stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company.

    Why we’re taking a stand

    In 2016, Uber bought a six-month old startup called Otto and appointed its founder (a former employee on our self-driving car project) as its head of self-driving technology. At the time, it was reported that Otto’s LiDAR sensor was one of the key reasons Uber acquired the company.

    Recently, we received an unexpected email. One of our suppliers specializing in LiDAR components sent us an attachment (apparently inadvertently) of machine drawings of what was purported to be Uber’s LiDAR circuit board — except its design bore a striking resemblance to Waymo’s unique LiDAR design.

    We found that six weeks before his resignation this former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board. To gain access to Waymo’s design server, Mr. Levandowski searched for and installed specialized software onto his company-issued laptop. Once inside, he downloaded 9.7 GB of Waymo’s highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation. Then he connected an external drive to the laptop. Mr. Levandowski then wiped and reformatted the laptop in an attempt to erase forensic fingerprints.

    Beyond Mr. Levandowki’s actions, we discovered that other former Waymo employees, now at Otto and Uber, downloaded additional highly confidential information pertaining to our custom-built LiDAR including supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information.

    We believe these actions were part of a concerted plan to steal Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property. Months before the mass download of files, Mr. Levandowski told colleagues that he had plans to “replicate” Waymo’s technology at a competitor.

    There are many more details in our complaint, which outlines unlawful misappropriation of our trade secrets, patent infringement and unfair competition. We’re seeking an injunction to stop the misappropriation of our designs, return all trade secret information and cease infringing our patents.

    Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn’t make this decision lightly. However, given the overwhelming facts that our technology has been stolen, we have no choice but to defend our investment and development of this unique technology.

    https://medium.com/waymo/a-note-on-o...r-86f4f98902a1

  4. #4
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    Uber: 'A baseless attempt to slow down a competitor'

    Anita Balakrishnan
    24 Feb 2017

    Uber has fired back at a lawsuit alleging it misappropriated trade secrets.

    On Friday, in an updated statement, Uber said:

    "We are incredibly proud of the progress that our team has made. 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." — Uber spokesperson

    ...

    Uber has ambitious plans for its self-driving cars. Earlier this month, CEO Travis Kalanick laid out his vision at a summit in Dubai.

    "It sounds futuristic and sci-fi but that's where the world is going," Kalanick said.

    http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/24/uber-...ompetitor.html

  5. #5
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    Levandowski

    “Months before the mass download of files, Mr. Levandowski told colleagues that he had plans to ‘replicate’ Waymo’s technology at a competitor.”

    Dec 11, 2015 Mr. Levandowski installed special software on his Waymo laptop to access the design server. Mr. Levandowski then downloaded over 14,000 (9.7 GB) of highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation. 2 GB of the download related to Waymo’s LiDAR technology. Among the downloaded documents were confidential specifications for each version of every generation of Waymo’s LiDAR circuit boards.
    Dec. 14 Mr. Levandowski attached a removable media device (an SD Card) to the laptop containing the downloaded files for approximately eight hours.
    Dec. 18 Mr. Levandowski reformatted the laptop, attempting to erase any evidence of what happened
    to the downloaded files. After wiping the laptop clean, Mr. Levandowski used the reformatted laptop for a few minutes and then never used it again.
    Around the same time, Mr. Levandowski used his Waymo credentials and security clearances to download additional confidential Waymo documents to a personal device. These materials included at least five highly sensitive internal presentations containing proprietary technical details regarding the manufacture, assembly, calibration, and testing of Waymo’s LiDAR sensors.
    Jan. 14, 2016 Levandowski “attended meeting with high-level executives at Uber’s headquarters”
    Jan. 15 Levandowski’s venture OttoMotto LLC was officially formed
    Jan. 27 Levandowski resigned from Waymo without notice
    Feb. 1 Levandowski’s venture Otto Trucking was officially formed
    March reports surfaced that the partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and Uber had “stalled”
    July a Waymo supply chain manager resigned from Waymo and joined Otto. Approximately a month before the supply chain manager resigned and despite his confidentiality obligations to Waymo, he downloaded from Waymo’s secure network Waymo’s confidential supply chain information and other confidential manufacturing information, including Statements of Work (or SOWs) for particular components – all of which reflected the results of Waymo’s months-long, resource-intensive research into suppliers for highly specialized LiDAR sensor components.
    Also in July 2016, a certain Waymo hardware engineer resigned. On the same day that he resigned from Waymo, and despite his confidentiality obligations to Waymo, this engineer
    downloaded from Waymo’s secure network three files containing confidential research into
    various potential hardware vendors for highly specialized LiDAR components and manufacturing services. On information and belief, this hardware engineer left Waymo to
    join Otto.
    In the same time period that these former Waymo employees were downloading Waymo’s confidential information regarding its manufacturing and hardware vendors and resigned, Otto contacted the most-extensively vetted (and confidential) Waymo vendor and attempted to order manufacturing services for LiDAR components similar to those the vendor provides to Waymo.
    Aug. 18 Uber acquires self-driving truck startup Otto for $680 million. Notably, Otto announced the acquisition shortly after Mr. Levandowski received his final multi-million dollar compensation payment from Google.
    Sept. 14This is the week self-driving cars became real : Even though it was unsettling, erratic, and possibly rushed out, my trip in a self-driving Uber car this week will most likely be looked back upon as a watershed moment. Wednesday Sept. 14 was the first time in the US an autonomous car picked up regular people and drove them somewhere (pretty much) on its own.”
    Oct. 5 Levandowski showed FORBES a demo of Uber's self-driving car project
    When FORBES interviewed Levandowski in October 2016, he attempted to explain how a startup like Otto, on its own and then as part of Uber, could spin up its own functional self-driving technology in less than a year.
    “We understand what not to do and where not to waste time, because we have experience from having tried it before and it didn’t work,” Levandowski said. “And we have experience trying things that do work, so we’re just doing the things that do work, and focus on that.”
    Dec. 13 Waymo received an email from one of its LiDAR-component vendors. The email, which a Waymo employee was copied on, was titled OTTO FILES and its recipients included an email alias indicating that the thread was a discussion among members of the vendor’s “Uber” team.
    Attached to the email was a machine drawing of what purported to be an Otto circuit board (the “Replicated Board”) that bore a striking resemblance to – and shared several unique characteristics with – Waymo’s highly confidential current-generation LiDAR circuit board, the design of which had been downloaded by Mr. Levandowski before his resignation.
    The Replicated Board reflects Waymo’s highly confidential proprietary LiDAR technology and Waymo trade secrets. Moreover, the Replicated Board is specifically designed to be used in conjunction with many other Waymo trade secrets and in the context of overall LiDAR systems covered by Waymo patents.
    In one submission [made by Otto to Nevada regulatory authorities] dated less than one month after the Otto acquisition and while Uber was refusing to publicly identify the supplier of its LiDAR system, Otto privately represented that it had “developed in house and/or currently deployed” an “[i]n-house custom built 64-laser” LiDAR system. This was the final piece of the puzzle: confirmation that Uber and Otto are in fact using a custom LiDAR system with the same characteristics as Waymo’s proprietary system.


    The suit, Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies Inc., 17-cv-00939 [PDF 43p] in the US District Court of the Northern District of California, asks for a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages and legal fees as well as an injunction on Otto and Uber from using the technology.

    COMPLAINT

    1. VIOLATION OF DEFENSE OF TRADE SECRETS ACT

    2. VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA UNIFORM TRADE SECRET ACT

    3. PATENT INFRINGEMENT

    4. VIOLATION OF CAL. BUS & PROF. CODE SECTION 17200
    Última edição por 5ms; 26-02-2017 às 10:50.

  6. #6
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    Waymo-Uber Judge Torn Over Damning Evidence Minus 'Smoking Gun'

    U.S. judge says Uber may have known engineer was ‘radioactive’

    Joel Rosenblatt
    May 3, 2017

    The judge presiding over Waymo’s trade-secrets fight with Uber Technologies Inc. said it seems “overwhelmingly clear” the engineer at the center of the case took confidential files but there’s no “smoking gun” proof the ride-hailing company illegally used the information.

    U.S. District Judge William Alsup told lawyers Wednesday he’s torn over what to do in a “hypothetical situation where there’s this threat of use” of Alphabet Inc.’s proprietary information, “but it’s not yet proven.”

    The judge’s comments cast doubt on whether he’ll grant Waymo’s request to freeze Uber’s efforts to develop a fully autonomous car until a jury issues a verdict on the case. He said during a hearing in San Francisco that while he’ll probably accept Waymo’s claim that engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files before he left the company to form a startup that he later sold to Uber, “there’s not much proof” the allegedly purloined information was used by Uber in its research and development.

    Waymo argued that Uber has incorporated some information Levandowski took into its designs and a preliminary injunction is the only way to prevent further damage. Uber says it didn’t steal Waymo’s trade secrets, and its technology is unique and developed without significant input from Levandowski.

    Alsup said Uber may have known Levandowski was “radioactive" and the company may have taken “affirmative steps" to block Waymo from proving he stole its trade secrets as part of that move.

    “You have one of the strongest records I’ve seen in a long time of someone doing something bad, so good for you," Alsup told Waymo’s lawyers. “You could bust the case wide open and prove that happened, but that has not happened yet."

    The case is Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies Inc., 17-cv-00939, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco)

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-after-he-quit

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