A U.S. judge on Tuesday said Uber “withheld evidence from me” and granted a request from Alphabet‘s Waymo self-driving car unit to delay a trade secrets trial that had been scheduled to begin next week.
The delay centers around a letter from a former Uber security analyst to an Uber lawyer. The former employee reportedly made bombshell allegations, including that employees at Uber were trained to “impede” ongoing investigations, multiple media outlets reported.
Waymo said it learned of new evidence last week after the U.S. Department of Justice shared it with the judge overseeing the case. In its court filing on Monday, Waymo said it recently learned that a former Uber security analyst sent a letter to an Uber in-house lawyer more than six months ago, which contained important facts about the case.
Waymo’s court filing is partially redacted from public view, so the details of the analyst’s letter are not known. However, Waymo said Uber concealed the letter despite demands from Waymo and the judge to disclose all relevant evidence.
At a hearing in San Francisco federal court, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said it would be a “huge injustice” to force Waymo to go to trial now, given new evidence that has recently surfaced in the case.
“The public is going to hear everything” about the disputed evidence, the judge said at Tuesday’s hearing.
Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that former Waymo executive Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving to set up a self-driving truck company, called Otto, which Uber acquired soon after.
Uber denied using any of Waymo’s trade secrets. Levandowski has declined to answer questions about the allegations, citing constitutional protections against self-incrimination.
Waymo, the self-driving car unit that spun out of Google last year, had asked the federal judge on Monday to postpone the Dec. 4 trade secrets trial against Uber.
“Uber has been waiting for its day in court for quite some time now,” an Uber spokeswoman said on Monday. “We’re keen to have a jury finally hear this case on its merits.”
Earlier this year Alsup, who is hearing the civil action brought by Waymo, asked federal prosecutors to investigate whether criminal theft of trade secrets had occurred. That probe is being handled by the intellectual property unit of the Northern California U.S. Attorney’s office, sources familiar with the situation said. No charges have been filed.
It is unusual for prosecutors to share information with a judge days before a civil case is set to begin. Alsup already delayed the trial once before, in October, citing Waymo’s need to probe separate evidence Uber had not promptly disclosed.
Uber in the last year has been hit by scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment and federal criminal probes into software the ride-hailing firm used to deceive regulators and allegations it paid bribes to authorities in Asia.
The latest controversy to hurt the firm’s reputation is last week’s revelation that Uber tried to cover up a 2016 data breach that impacted about 57 million customers.
— CNBC’s Anita Balakrishnan contributed to this report.
Source: Tech CNBC
Uber trained workers to use disappearing messages to evade authorities, former employee alleges