IN ANOTHER twist to ride-scaring firm Uber's septimana horribilis, the company is being sued by Waymo, the self-driving car offshoot of Alphabet, Google's parent company.
The company is going after Uber's opposite number subsidiary Otto, which the moral-relaxy-taxi cab firm bought last year for $700m.
Specifically, it levels claims that Waymo's former boss Anthony Levandowski took trade secrets with him when he left to set up Otto and that this tech was now instrumental to the workings of Otto's own vehicles.
Mr Levandowski is alleged to have downloaded 14,000 "highly confidential and proprietary design files" whilst at Google and that the actions were "part of a concerted plan to steal Waymo's trade secrets and intellectual property".
But the allegations go further, and very publicly so: "To gain access to Waymo's design server, Mr. Levandowski searched for and installed specialised software onto his company-issued laptop.
"Once inside, he downloaded 9.7 GB of Waymo's highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation. Then he connected an external drive to the laptop. Mr Levandowski then wiped and reformatted the laptop in an attempt to erase forensic fingerprints."
Whilst there's no doubt that if Waymo's allegations turn out to be true this is one hell of a case of industrial espionage, it represents some chickens coming home to roost for the internet giant who was recently said to have overpaid self-driving executives to the point that they could afford to leave and set up competitors like Otto in the first place.
The crux of the lawsuit is about technology surrounding LiDAR, the way that Waymo's cars "see" the world by bouncing laser beams and measuring the time it takes for the light to bounce back.
A blog post outlining the action explains: "Hundreds of Waymo engineers have spent thousands of hours, and our company has invested millions of dollars to design a highly specialised and unique LiDAR system.
"Waymo engineers have driven down the cost of LiDAR dramatically even as we've improved the quality and reliability of its performance. The configuration and specifications of our LiDAR sensors are unique to Waymo.
"Misappropriating this technology is akin to stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company."
The INQUIRER hopes that we don't get sued for telling you the secret ingredient in Dandelion and Burdock isn't actually Dandelion and that Irn Bru has veg in it, but very little actual iron. But we digress.
Waymo adds: "Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn't make this decision lightly. However, given the overwhelming facts that our technology has been stolen, we have no choice but to defend our investment and development of this unique technology."
So first it was sexism, now out-and-out tee'fery being levelled at the minicab equivalent of blogging. Hey, Uber, u ok hon? µ
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