In an interesting twist of events, Google is suing Uber for what it alleges as an infringement on its copyrights and a violation of the Defence of Trade Secrets Act.
In a suit that has been filed in the California’s Northern District court, Google alleges that Uber stole some of its highly critical software programs and that the company is now using them to develop its self-driving cars.
At the heart of the suit is an allegation by Google, self-driving car-making subsidiary, Waymo, that one of its former employees who now works for Google, Antony Levandowski, stole the secrets from its systems.
Google says that Lewandowski, while still working at the company, had access to the secrets and managed to download up to 14,000 highly important files from the Google systems.
The company further alleges that Levandowski used the files to launch Otto, a small self-driving car maker that was later acquired by Uber.
Currently, Levandowski is in charge of the self-driving cars division at Uber.
At this stage, it is not clear how thing will play out. However, many experts believe that if the suit goes to trial, it will be a landmark case, given its nature of legal complexity and level of publicity that it may likely generate.
According to Chris Swecker, an attorney specialising in corporate espionage, the current case is likely to have a criminal twist when it finally goes to trial.
‘I think that the FBI is likely to get involved in this case at some point, given its nature and what it means,’ he said.
Uber has issued a detailed statement, saying that it had noted the nature of the allegations against it and Levandowski and that it was taking highly concrete steps to address them.
It is difficult to guess what the next step for Uber will be, given that competition in the field is growing intense with every passing day.
Uber has been locked in an intense completion in the industry with the likes of Google and other companies that are developing self-driving cars.
However, Waymo has intensified its attacks against Levandowski and Uber, publishing a detailed account of what the company believes transpired a few weeks before Levandowski resigned under unclear circumstances and went ahead to launch Otto.
So far, Levandowski has not commented on the allegations against him or the now-defunct, Otto.