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Judge: Uber “misled” court, plaintiff Waymo was “greedy”

Uber and a company suing Uber both got a scolding Wednesday in a pre-trial Wednesday before a San Franscisco judge. U.S. District Judge William Alsup called plaintiff Waymo “greedy” but also said that Uber‘s lawyer, Arturo Gonzalez, has been misleading the court “time and time again.”

The trial will start in October and pits Waymo, a self-driving car project started by Google’s Alphabet, against Uber. Waymo sued Uber in February over Uber’s self-driving vehicle research, which it said had stolen Waymo trade secrets.

The dispute first emerged after Anthony Levandroski, a Waymo engineer, left Waymo and founded Otto, a self-driving-truck company that Uber later acquired. Waymo claimed that Levandroski took 14,000 documents with patent-protected information on them when he left.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Waymo asked Alsup to hold Uber and its legal team in contempt for stalling on disclosing information about Levandroski’s documents and other documents in their possession. Alsup agreed that Uber has been slow to respond to repeated requests for these documents, pointed out that Uber has missed many trial-related deadlines, and threatened to have Gonzalez take the stand to explain why his client wasn’t being forthcoming.
“I am concerned that Mr. Gonzalez failed to disclose that he had the documents and took a long time to come clean,” Alsup said. “I am inclined…to tell the jury exactly this scenario: that he was ordered to come clean, did not come clean, ordered to come clean again, and did not come clean —finally in June or July came clean.”
He expressed frustration with Waymo, as well, when Waymo insisted that it was charging Uber with 121 trade-secret violations. In a previous court order, the company had been forced to narrow the list down to nine, and Alsup said that he could postpone the case for a year if Waymo demanded the right to contest all 121.
“You can’t have everything,” Alsup said. “You want 121? I’ll give you that. We can push this out another couple of years and they’ll have cars on the street because you’re being greedy.”

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