SAN FRANCISCO — Waymo is seeking to add two new “highly valuable” trade secrets into its lawsuit against Uber.
In a court filing Monday afternoon, lawyers for the Google Inc. driverless car division said newly obtained documents reveal that Uber Technologies Inc. has implemented “specific, narrow algorithms” taken from Waymo that can help control a car’s velocity, lane changes and other aspects of its trajectory.
This appears to be the first time that Waymo has publicly asserted that Uber is using specific software-based trade secrets. A redacted filing by Waymo in August only mentioned trade secrets related to LiDAR, the hardware that allows an autonomous vehicle to “see.” It has said those trade secrets could be worth as much as $1.859 billion in damages.
“Obviously it’s a very significant motion because it would add a lot, apparently, to what has already been put on the table in terms of anticipated evidence and claims and experts,” said James Pooley, an independent trade secrets lawyer who has followed the case.
The company says it learned the software code had been stolen when it obtained a trove of files from Stroz Friedberg, a third-party digital forensics firm that conducted a due diligence process for Uber prior to its acquisition of a company started by former Waymo engineers.
It alleges in the filing that Don Burnette, who previously worked at Waymo and is now Uber’s technical lead for software autonomy, took the trade secrets. Waymo says it found notes that are evidence of the misappropriation in Burnette’s personal laptop, which was stored at Stroz.
An Uber spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Waymo is seeking to add the two trade secrets claims to the case, as well as use of other Stroz files to bolster the evidence for its current list of nine trade secrets. Uber’s legal team is almost certain to challenge that motion. Trial is set to begin in the case on Dec. 4.
The new claims highlight why Waymo was eager to get its hands on Stroz Friedberg’s due diligence report, which it finally received in September after an appeals court decision, and why it sought to delay the trial in order to comb through the new information.
Waymo says that Burnette, in a deposition, testified that after leaving Waymo he and others “pretty much went to the drawing board” to design the so-called planner software. “A review of the Stroz materials, however, disclosed that Burnette’s pre-Stroz testimony was, to understate it, less than accurate,” the company says in the new filing.
Waymo also alleges that the material it obtained from Stroz includes “a significant number of additional documents related to Uber’s misappropriation of the nine previously elected Waymo LiDAR trade secrets.” For example, the filing said Stroz documents show that ex-Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski—who later led Uber’s LiDAR development before being fired—had copies of Waymo material relating to each of the trade secrets after he left Waymo.
Waymo is represented in the litigation by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Uber is represented by Susman Godfrey, Boies Schiller Flexner and Morrison & Foerster.