Jacobs Letter: Uber responsible for acts of corporate espionage, theft in Alphabet’s Waymo


A special branch in ride-hailing firm Uber was responsible for acts of corporate espionage, theft of trade secrets and various means of unlawful surveillance in Aplhabet’s self-driving unit Waymo said the judge in a letter.

“Uber worked to unlawfully obtain trade secrets from [redacted]. MA I) remotely accessed confidential [redacted] corporate communications and data, 2) impersonated riders and drivers on [redacted] platform to derive key functions of [redacted] rider and driver apps, 3) stole supply data by identifying possible drivers to boost Uber’s market position, and 4) acquired codebase which allowed MA to identify code used by [redacted] to understand in greater detail how [redacted] app functioned,” read the Jacobs letter.

It was written by the attorney for Richard Jacobs, reported Tech Crunch, who earlier worked as Uber’s manager of global intelligence before being fired in April.

The 37-page letter alleged that some of the information gathered was relayed to then-CEO Travis Kalanick. However, the company denied the charges. “While we haven’t substantiated all the claims in this letter—and, importantly, any related to Waymo—our new leadership has made clear that going forward we will compete honestly and fairly, on the strength of our ideas and technology,” said company’s spokesperson.

A report in Gizmodo earlier this week outlined Uber’s systematic data scraping of competitors’ platforms via automated collection systems that were running constantly, amassing millions of records.

Waymo allegations on Uber

This year in Feb, Waymo sued Uber alleging that former engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving to set up a self-driving truck company, called Otto.

Waymo’s lawsuit has been disruptive for Uber. Alphabet’s Waymo sought at least $1 billion in damages and a public apology as conditions for settling its high-profile trade secret lawsuit.

“Uber improperly withheld the Jacobs Letter, which exposes the extreme lengths it was willing to go both to get a leg up on competition and hide evidence of bad acts. Separate and apart from the letter, Waymo has accumulated significant evidence that Uber is using stolen Waymo trade secrets, including copying aspects of Waymo’s LiDAR designs down to the micron, and we look forward to trial,” said Waymo spokesperson.

Uber denied using any of Waymo’s trade secrets. Uber later fired Levandowski, regarded as a visionary in autonomous technology, after he refused to return Waymo documents at the heart of the case. Levandowski has asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination and declined to answer questions from Waymo lawyers.

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