USA judge grants partial injunction against Uber in Waymo auto case

A man arrives at the Uber offices in Queens New York

A man arrives at the Uber offices in Queens New York

He worked on Google's autonomous vehicle technology for years, being a key engineer for the project, according to multiple reports. "We continue to believe that no Waymo trade secrets have ever been used in the development of our self-driving technology, and we remain confident that we will prove that fact in due course", Yoo wrote.

Levandowksi is an engineer who worked on Uber's autonomous vehicle project after his departure from Google's self driving auto company, Waymo. The Alphabet unit claims he downloaded thousands of confidential files before he left the company to launch his own self-driving startup, Otto, that was acquired by Uber for $680 million. But Levandowski is refusing to let the devices that might contain the files be searched, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate himself.

The attorneys argued that the judge's order to Uber to force Mr. Levandowski to comply with the ruling or face termination violates decades of court precedent.

This week also saw Levandowski prohibited from working on Lidar technology in a preliminary injunction, as opposed to halting Uber from working on the technology altogether.

Uber general counsel, Salle Yoo, wrote in a letter to Levandowski: "If you do not agree to comply with all of the requirements set forth herein, or if you fail to comply in a material manner, then Uber will take adverse employment action against you, which may include termination of your employment".

But Levandowski's lawyers say the demand is unconstitutional. "Almost fifty years of Supreme Court precedent forbid the government from putting an individual to such an unconstitutionally coercive choice", they wrote.

The notice of appeal was filed a week after US District Court Judge William Alsup, the presiding judge in the case, denied Uber's motion and referred the matter to federal prosecutors for possible criminal investigation. Waymo declined to comment and Uber did not respond to a request for comment.

The case comes at a critical time for Uber.

Uber's appeal to mitigate headlines is just the latest development in what has so far been an absolutely awful year.

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