The lawsuit by Waymo, Google’s autonomous car division, against Silicon Valley rival Uber is not your normal trade secrets case. The litigation has moved at a breakneck clip since being launched at the end of February. Waymo has alleged an elaborate plot by Uber to steal highly valuable technology and cover its tracks. A top engineer at Uber has invoked the Fifth Amendment. And the judge has flagged the case to federal prosecutors for a possible criminal investigation.
In this episode of Unprecedented, we talk with veteran federal prosecutor-turned-white collar defense lawyer Jeffrey Bornstein of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld. Speaking at his San Francisco office, Bornstein gives us a look at how the criminal aspects of this case could play out, and also argues that the judge in the case may be setting a “dangerous precedent” by pressuring the Uber engineer, Anthony Levandowski, to yield his Fifth Amendment rights.
We also hear from James Pooley, a lawyer for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in Palo Alto who has been on the front lines of efforts to strengthen legal protections for trade secrets. He tells us that while Waymo’s lawyers have enjoyed some limited success, they’ll have to jettison at least some of their 121 claimed trade secrets moving forward. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’re going to winnow down that list,” he said. “The first rule of something like this is, ‘Listen to the judge,’ and the judge has told them he thinks this is way too broad.”
About the podcast: “Unprecedented” is a biweekly podcast hosted by Law.com reporter Ben Hancock about technology, the law, and the future of litigation. Based in San Francisco, Ben writes about third-party litigation finance, legal data analytics, artificial intelligence, privacy, and related issues. Listen to more from Unprecedented.