SAN FRANCISCO—In highly-anticipated testimony jacket up the second day of trial, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick reliable that Uber’s primary aspirant in self-driving cars is indeed Waymo, now a multiplication of Alphabet, Google’s primogenitor company.
“Do you trust they are in the lead?” Waymo’s attorney, Charles Verhoeven, asked him.
“Yes,” Kalanick said.
“And they were in the lead in 2015 and 2016?”
Kalanick, who served as Uber’s CEO from 2010 until mid-2017, also certified that he met with Anthony Levandowski, a top Waymo engineer, in 2015.
“You discussed the squeeze of a self-existent company?”
“Yes, he was very austere about starting a company, and we were very austere about employing him,” Kalanick said, who was dressed in a dim fit and tie, remained indifferent via his 45 mins of testimony. His answers by and vast were singular to singular words: “yes,” or “correct.”
Waymo and Uber are sealed in an heated hearing over either Uber dissipated trade secrets acquired from Waymo—the outcome of the case could establish who ends up on top in the unconstrained automobile space.
“Laser is the sauce”
Kalanick concurred that, in 2015, Uber was confronting an existential crisis. The ridesharing company knew that it was behind in unconstrained vehicles and would potentially be driven out of business.
“If you are not making new things that people want, then you turn partial of the past,” Kalanick said.
So, that’s what stirred Uber—particularly Kalanick—to find out Levandowski, who was feeling undone at Google.
Verhoeven showed showed records of Kalanick speaking at a assembly held in late 2015 with pivotal members of Uber’s AV team. Those notes, which were taken by John Bares, who left Uber late last year, featured a wishlist that read: “source, all of their data, tagging, highway map, bruise of flesh, IP.”
“Did you tell the organisation that what you wanted was a bruise of flesh?” Verhoeven asked.
“I don’t know specifically,” Kalanick said. “It’s a term we use from time to time.”
At one indicate in Dec 2015, Levandowski also met with Kalanick at Uber headquarters. A photocopy of Levandowski’s proxy ID badge was entered into evidence.
Kalanick serve explained that, during a assembly on Sunday, Jan 3, 2016—an confront described as a “jam sesh,” contrast it to a jazz jam session—where Kalanick met with Levandowski and others directly. That’s when Kalanick wrote on a white board: “Laser is the sauce.” (A picture of this was shown in court.)
“I’d contend it’s an critical partial of making unconstrained work,” he explained in court. “It doesn’t work but it.”
In other words, lasers, or lidar, were and sojourn essential to the growth of any self-driving car.
When Verhoeven asked if the two men had discussed the squeeze of a “non-existent company,” Kalanick explained that the two men wanted to take opposite routes to grasp eventually the same goal
“Yes, he was very austere about starting a company and we were very austere about employing him,” the ex-CEO said.
Verhoeven then launched into a step-by-step timeline that Uber and Ottomotto concluded to, where Levandowski and his organisation would grasp certain multi-million dollar bonuses if they hit several self-driving milestones. However, the time ran out and US District Court Judge William Alsup has been using a parsimonious schedule, finale justice any day at 1pm PT.
Kalanick only testified for 45 mins and was told to report back to justice Wednesday morning at 7:30am for the third day of trial.
What is a trade secret, anyway?
Kalanick was the categorical event—heads incited in expectation of his attainment in court.
However, there were a few other moments of fireworks. Earlier in the day, Gary Brown, a Google confidence engineer, was beaten while on the declare mount under doubt by Uber’s top lawyer, Arturo González.
Brown was partial of the organisation that analyzed the network traffic and examined Anthony Levandowski’s work-issued laptop that was used to download over 14,000 inner Waymo files from its SVN server shortly before his depart from Waymo in Jan 2016.
After Brown walked the jury by precisely how he dynamic how it was Levandowski that downloaded the files, during cross-examination, González asked if any “alarm bells” went off when such a outrageous cache of information was downloaded.
“Not to my knowledge,” he said.
“Who is the person at Google that is responsible?” the counsel asked.
“I’m not sure,” Brown said, flatly.
“Nobody! Nobody at Google supervised that SVN!” he said, animatedly, looking and gesturing true at the jury, underscoring the crux of Uber’s argument, that even if Levandowski took the files, they were not trade secrets.
“If these papers were important, don’t you consider that would be a good thought to know if somebody downloaded everything?”
“It’s possible, but it’s very tough to detect antagonistic insiders.”
“It’s not tough when somebody downloads the whole database, is it?”
“I don’t know.”
On a route doubt from a Waymo attorney, Brown underscored that it wasn’t his pursuit to strengthen the SVN server—all he was in charge of was evaluating the network and forensics logs after the fact. But the indicate was made: if the files that Levandowski accessed before to his depart from Waymo were so secret, they positively weren’t stable very well.
This is a essential component of trade secrets law: are the techniques and methods in doubt truly secretive?
This is what this lawsuit boils down to: did Uber steal, or misappropriate, eight specific trade secrets? The open does not nonetheless know precisely which sum are at issue—the justice is taken into a sealed event when those accurate elements are discussed in court.
Earlier in the day, before Brown took the stand, US District Court Judge William Alsup gave a discerning authority to the jury about the differences between patents and trade secrets, reminding the jury that the case only revolved around the latter.
“No supervision group issues a trade secret,” he said. “Instead it’s something that typically a company or a tiny business or big business that would come up with their own way of doing something. They kept it secret—it has mercantile value since it is secret—and they take reasonable efforts to keep it a secret. That’s what a trade secret is.”
Judge Alsup highlighted the fact that trade secrets could be combined separately, independently.
“You can only sue over hidden or misappropriation of trade secrets,” he said.
Still, Levandowski is the elephant in the trial: the essential operative downloaded 14,000 files shortly before he left Waymo in Jan 2016. He is likely to be called to the declare stand. If he shows up, he’s not likely to give any concrete answers—when summoned for a deposition he declined, citing a Fifth Amendment payoff against self-incrimination.
The lawsuit, Waymo v. Uber, began back in Feb 2017, when Waymo sued Uber and accused Uber of misusing trade secrets that Levandowski took from Waymo. The operative went on to found a company that was fast acquired by Uber. Levandowski refused to approve with his employer’s demands during the march of this case and was fired. Uber has denied that it benefited in any way from Levandowski’s actions.