Anthony Levandowski, the former Google executive at the center of Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber, will not be allowed to use a Fifth Amendment argument to keep unredacted logs key to Waymo’s case from being submitted to the court, according to an order from the US Court of Appeals issued on Tuesday.
The ruling means that Uber must turn over certain documents that Waymo says could help bolster its trade theft case. Waymo alleges that its self-driving car technology was stolen by Levandowksi, who is now overseeing Uber’s self-driving car effort.
Levandowski has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the case. Tuesday’s ruling does not impact Levandowski’s ability to keep silent, but it means that Uber itself cannot withhold certain documents from Waymo because of Levandowoski’s legal status.
Waymo alleges that Levandowski took 14,000 documents relating to self-driving-car technology with him before he left the company and that Uber is now relying on many of those documents for its self-driving-car project. Uber has said that none of the files are stored on Uber-owned computers and therefore cannot be submitted to the court during the discovery process.
Why this matters
Waymo is the company that was spun off of Google’s self-driving-car project. One of its goals is to start a ride-hailing service with a fleet of self-driving cars.
However, Waymo’s lawsuit accuses Levandowski, who was part of the project but left for Uber, of taking the documents and using them to develop custom lidar for Uber’s self-driving cars. Uber denies Waymo’s allegations and says its lidar is significantly different from Waymo’s lidar.
Waymo began testing its self-driving-car service in Phoenix, Arizona, this week. Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has said the future of the company hinges on its ability to deploy self-driving cars and that it could lose everything if another company like Waymo beat Uber to market.