Judge in Waymo Lawsuit Forcing Uber to Release Key Otto Document

The judge wants Uber to release its due diligence report on Anthony Levandowski’s Otto startup.

byStephen Edelstein|
Judge in Waymo Lawsuit Forcing Uber to Release Key Otto Document

Uber may have fired self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski, but the company's legal battle with Waymo over trade secrets Levandowski allegedly stole from the former Google self-driving car project continues.

Levandowski is accused of stealing 14,000 files from Waymo before leaving the company to found Otto, an autonomous driving startup Uber bought last year. Now a judge is forcing Uber to release the due diligence report it produced as part of the Otto purchase, according to Reuters.

Waymo has reportedly been seeking a copy of the report for its trial preparations, but Uber has refused to release it, citing attorney-client privilege. The magistrate judge's ruling became public when U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, the judge directly overseeing the Waymo-Uber case, mentioned it in court Wednesday.

At a court hearing last month, Alsup said the due diligence report was a potential "treasure trove" of information, which could shed light on what Uber knew about Otto before it purchased the startup. It's important because Waymo's case is based on the accusation that Uber knew Levandowski had stolen the files, and that it actively tried to use the information.

According to emails between Uber lawyers released in April, the company began considering the legal implications of purchasing Otto almost as soon as Levandowski started the company. Before he was fired, Judge Alsup barred Levandowski from any further involvement in Uber's self-driving car project. 

However, Alsup also said Waymo has not produced a "smoking gun" showing that Uber used its trade secrets, and did not grant Waymo's request to completely shut down Uber's self-driving car program.

The case is set to go to trial in October. Alsup has also asked federal prosecutors to investigate the matter, putting more pressure on Uber.