Date
10 December 2018
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick leaves a San Francisco court on Feb. 7 during a Waymo-Uber autonomous car secrets trial. The case came to an abrupt close following a settlement between the two firms. Photo: Reuters
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick leaves a San Francisco court on Feb. 7 during a Waymo-Uber autonomous car secrets trial. The case came to an abrupt close following a settlement between the two firms. Photo: Reuters

Uber settles Waymo lawsuit over self-driving car tech

Uber Technologies will give equity stake worth US$245 million to Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle unit Waymo to settle a legal dispute over trade secrets, according to an announcement Friday. 

“While 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, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement, Reuters reports.

Lidar is a light-based sensor crucial to autonomous driving.

The settlement announcement Friday brought an abrupt halt to the case just before the fifth day of testimony was to begin at a jury trial in federal court in San Francisco.

In a lawsuit filed last year, Waymo said that one of its former engineers who became chief of Uber’s self-driving car project took with him thousands of confidential documents.

The settlement allows Uber’s boss Khosrowshahi to put another scandal behind the company and move ahead with development of self-driving technology, following the tumultuous leadership by former CEO Travis Kalanick, who testified at the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday, Reuters noted.

As part of the deal, Waymo gets a 0.34 percent stake in Uber, worth about US$245 million based on Uber’s current US$72 billion valuation.

The settlement includes an agreement to ensure that Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated into Uber technology, which Waymo has said was its main goal in bringing the lawsuit.

In settlement talks last year, Waymo had sought at least US$1 billion from Uber, and wanted an independent monitor to ensure that Uber would not use Waymo technology in the future.

Waymo also asked for an apology. Uber rejected those terms as non-starters.

Waymo had agreed earlier this week to a settlement proposal valued at US$500 million, and Khosrowshahi brought the proposal to the Uber board of directors, offering his support.

But Uber’s board rejected those terms on Tuesday, sending Khosrowshahi and chief legal officer Tony West back to renegotiate, Reuters cited sources as saying.

Subsequently, a deal was reached late Thursday for a US$245 million settlement, according to the report.

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RC

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