​Another Uber exec outed in Waymo self-driving car suit

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The plot thickens in the high-profile lawsuit between Waymo and Uber over self-driving car technology.


Waymo

A second Uber executive has been revealed in Waymo’s lawsuit.

When Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent company, Alphabet, first filed its suit in February only one senior Uber executive was named — Anthony Levandowski. Court documents made public on Monday show that another Uber executive, Lior Ron, was also allegedly involved.

This legal battle — pitting two of Silicon Valley’s most-watched companies against each other — centers on Waymo’s claims that Uber allegedly stole secret self-driving car technology.

Both Levandowski and Ron previously worked at Google but they left to form the self-driving truck company Otto, which launched May 2016 and then was acquired by Uber for $680 million in August. Levandowski is now Uber’s head of autonomous vehicles and Ron’s lists his current position on LinkedIn as “co-founder at Otto.”

Waymo claims that when Levandowski left he allegedly downloaded 14,000 “highly confidential” files to a hard drive.

Uber has called Waymo’s claims “baseless.”

The documents made public on Monday were heavily redacted and the parts not blacked out didn’t fully name Ron. However, the documents did refer to the executive as an Otto “co-founder” and additional information on the person’s work history matches Ron’s.

Additionally, in what appears to be a redaction error, Ron’s first name “Lior” appeared in one spot on the last page of the court filing, according to Business Insider. Then his last name appeared in another location on that same page. The document has since been amended and neither “Lior” nor “Ron” can be seen.

Waymo claims that Levandowski and Ron allegedly tried to recruit Google employees using confidential information, like salaries and compensation packages. Waymo also claims the two executives were “unjustly enriched” because Google paid them “substantial compensation, incentive payments, and bonuses, all under the impression that they were loyal employees.”

Neither Uber nor Waymo returned request for comment.

Along with damages, Waymo’s suit is also seeking an injunction against Uber’s self-driving car program. If the judge presiding over the case sides with Waymo, Uber may be forced to halt its project, which already has autonomous vehicles giving rides to passengers in Pennsylvania, Arizona and California.

Uber has said it plans to release its first public response and lay out its case at the end of this week.

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