Uber Allowed to Depose Alphabet CEO Larry Page in Waymo Case

Uber lawyers will get up to four hours to question the Google co-founder.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

In the latest twist in the ongoing Uber vs. Waymo legal drama, a judge ruled that Uber lawyers can question Google co-founder Larry Page under oath.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that Uber lawyers can depose Page for up to four hours, according to court documents obtained by CNET. Lawyers may also be allowed to depose David Drummond, chief legal officer of Google parent Alphabet and a former Uber board member (Google was an early investor in Uber).

Waymo, the former Google self-driving car project, filed a lawsuit in February alleging Uber used stolen trade secrets obtained through Anthony Levandowski, who is accused of downloading 14,000 files before leaving Waymo to form a startup, Otto, which was later bought by Uber. Levandowski was recently fired by Uber for not cooperating with the company's efforts to fight the lawsuit.

Uber is now alleging that both Page and Drummond have information relevant to the case. In court documents, it argued that Google turned down an offer of a partnership, and instead decided to compete directly with Uber by forming its own ride-sharing service. Uber lawyers will likely question Page on discussions between Uber and Google executives over that stillborn partnership, and why he did not alert Uber about the possible theft of confidential Waymo files.

Waymo claims Uber took the files from Levandowski when he was brought on board, and applied the information to its own self-driving car tech. But Uber now seems to be arguing that Waymo's lawsuit is just an attempt to slow down a competitor.

The Friday ruling, which came on the same day that Waymo dropped three of four patent claims against Uber, allows Uber lawyers to depose Page. Depositions take place before trial outside of the courtroom, but Page may also testify in court when the case goes to trial.