Earlier this year, Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary, launched a surprise and somewhat sensational lawsuit against Uber. According to the suit, a former Waymo engineer named Anthony Levandowski allegedly misappropriated hundreds of gigabytes of proprietary technical information about Waymo’s self-driving efforts and handed it over to Uber.
While Uber initially claimed that the allegations were frivolous and baseless, early court proceedings were far from favorable for the ride sharing company. As a quick example, an injunction issued earlier this month prevented Uber from using any of the information alleged to have been sourced from Waymo. What’s more, Levandowski was ordered to hand over a large cache of documents, an order he refused after invoking his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination.
Now comes word via The New York Times that Uber has since let Levandowski go.
The report reads in part:
Mr. Levandowski’s termination, effective immediately, comes as a result of his involvement in a legal battle between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving technology unit spun out of Google last year. Waymo claims that Uber is using trade secrets stolen from Google to develop Uber’s self-driving vehicles, a plan aided by Mr. Levandowski, a former longtime Google employee.
Uber reportedly tried to convince Levandowski to cooperate for a period stretching across a few months, albeit unsuccessfully. Indeed, Levandowski was well aware that failing to cooperate would be grounds for termination, which is to say that Levandowski adamant refusal to cooperate effectively forced Uber’s hand. Presumably, Levandowski was worried that his cooperation might lead to criminal charges.
In the meantime, the suit between Waymo and Uber will soldier on.