Uber-Waymo case: Dramatic turn as judge says Uber lawyers withheld evidence

Travis Kalanick

Chris Ratcliffe Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Given Uber's consistent failures to meet its discovery obligations in this case, and apparent misrepresentations to this court, Waymo has no choice but to seek a continuance of the trial date to enable Waymo to take additional discovery on this new information that is indisputably relevant to Waymo's trade secret misappropriation claims", Waymo said in a court filing.

He also claimed that the team used a secretive messaging system on an anonymous server that would delete texts nearly immediately in order "to ensure we didn't create a paper trail that came back to haunt the company in any potential civil or criminal litigation".

Further intrigue followed the testimony of Uber's former security analyst Richard Jacobs who Judge Alsup threatened to subpoena to give testimony and appears to have been the source of the information about the secretive unit. The letter reportedly had several bombshell revelations, including methods that Uber instructed employees to evade investigations.

The 37-page memo, written earlier this year by Ric Jacobs, detailed the tactics Uber used to allegedly obtain trade secrets and destroy evidence, according to WSJ.

Summary: The trade secret lawsuit between Waymo and Uber has been postponed.

"If even half of what's in that letter is true it would be a huge injustice to force Waymo to go to trial and not be able to prove the things that are said in that letter", Alsup said during a hearing Tuesday morning in Uber's home city, San Francisco. Similarly long pauses accompanied other similar questions. Uber bought that startup several months later for $680 million and tapped Levandowski to head of its autonomous vehicle program.

It also brings Uber very close to both contempt of court and criminal conduct charges. He said Uber had even gone as far as to hire former Central Intelligence Agency agents via contractors in its bid to obtain information on its rivals.

Uber employees researching rivals were given training with the goal to "impede, obstruct or influence any lawsuit against Uber", Jacobs said, including a communication strategy "to ensure we didn't create a paper trail that came back to haunt the company in any potential civil or criminal litigation".

For example, lawyer Arturo González told Alsup that "nobody on this defense team knew about" Uber using "shadow servers" to hide potentially incriminating information.

An already extraordinary trial has just got bigger.

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