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Uber settles with Waymo for $245 in bitter trade secrets dispute

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 9/2/2018 James Titcomb
Uber settles with Waymo for $245 in bitter trade secrets dispute © Provided by The Telegraph Uber settles with Waymo for $245 in bitter trade secrets dispute

Uber has settled a bitter Silicon Valley lawsuit with Waymo, the driverless car arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet, over accusations that the ride-hailing app stole trade secrets from Google.

The two companies announced that they had reached a settlement just days into a highly-anticipated trial. As part of the settlement, Waymo will get a 0.34pc stake in Uber, worth $245m (£177m) at its latest valuation.

Waymo had at one point sought a $1bn settlement from Uber, so the final deal marks a significant climbdown from its previous demands.

The case centred on Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who had joined Uber in 2016 when it bought Mr Levandowski’s driverless trucking company.

Waymo claimed he had taken trade secrets when he left Google related to the “lidar” detection system used on driverless cars, which had made its way into Uber’s own self-driving technology.

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick took to the stand to testify this weekCredit: Getty

Mr Levandowski was fired last year after refusing to co-operate with the investigation, and the court case, which began on Monday, threatened to unearth uncomfortable details about Uber and its former chief executive Travis Kalanick.

Mr Kalanick had already taken the stand for two days during which he was grilled about text messages sent between him and Mr Levandowski, but at which lawyers had struggled to extract any significant admissions about wrongdoing.

After the settlement Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s new chief executive, maintained that “we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology”. However, he said the trial had “raised some hard questions”.

“While I cannot erase the past, I can commit, on behalf of every Uber employee, that we will learn from it, and it will inform our actions going forward,” he said.

Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company would learn from its past

A spokesman for Waymo said: “We have reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo’s intellectual property now and into the future,” and said it the companies would work together to ensure Uber was not using any of Waymo’s technology.

Waymo, which was spun out of Google in 2016, is seen as a leader in driverless cars stemming from the company’s early investment in the technology. However, Uber has been investing heavily in recent years after fearing that its taxi-hailing service would be undercut by Google launching one without the cost of drivers.

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