Alphabet's self-driving car business, Waymo, has filed a suit against Uber Technologies for stealing trade secrets in the development of autonomous cars.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, accuses several employees of Otto, a self-driving startup Uber acquired in July, of "misappropriating Waymo trade secrets and infringing patents."
In 2016, Uber bought a six-month old startup called Otto and appointed its founder (a former employee on our self-driving car project) as its head of self-driving technology. At the time, it was reported that Otto's LiDAR sensor was one of the key reasons Uber acquired the company.
Waymo says that an Uber's LiDAR circuit board bores a "striking resemblance to Waymo's unique LiDAR design."
Waymo found that six weeks before his resignation this former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 "highly confidential and proprietary design files" for Waymo's various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo's LiDAR and circuit board.
Beyond Mr. Levandowki's actions, Waymo discovered that other former Waymo employees, now at Otto and Uber, downloaded additional highly confidential information pertaining to its custom-built LiDAR including supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information.