Uber and Waymo trial ends in settlement

Waymo’s lawyer Charles Voehoeven addresses the jury in the Waymo v. Uber trial over allegedly stolen self-driving car trade secrets.

Vicki Behringer

Talk about your abrupt endings. 

The trial between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving car arm of Alphabet and sister company to Google, came to a sudden end on Friday when Waymo’s lawyer declared to the judge that he had reached a settlement with Uber out of court. It was day five of the trail, which was expected to last at least three weeks.

The two companies were battling over trade secrets related to the technology in autonomous cars. 

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The settlement brings to a close one of the juiciest court battles in Silicon Valley, drawing in high-profile figures like former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin also on the potential roster to testify. The dispute had already aired some of Uber’s dirty laundry in the first few days, including Kalanick admitting he said, “the golden time is over. It’s war time” in regards to competition in the self-driving car race.

At the heart of the debate is one of the hottest trends in tech: self-driving cars. Google has long invested in autonomous driving as one of its key projects for the future, and Uber saw self-driving cars as a critical plan in providing ride-hailing services around the world. 

Over the course of the five days of trial, witnesses testified about Uber’s notoriously competitive tactics, but ultimately no smoking gun had yet been revealed over the allegedly stolen trade secrets.

In a statement, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company did “not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber.”

“To our friends at Alphabet: we are partners, you are an important investor in Uber, and we share a deep belief in the power of technology to change people’s lives for the better,” Khosrowshahi said. “Of course, we are also competitors.”

A Waymo spokesman said in a statement that the company believes the agreement it made with Uber will protect its intellectual property now and into the future.

“We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology,” he said. “This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software. We have always believed competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads and we look forward to bringing fully self-driving cars to the world.” 

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2018-02-09 16:44:47 – Source: cnet.com