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Alphabet says Travis Kalanick knew one of Uber’s acquisitions had taken Alphabet files

Uber has also been ordered to produce a key document in the case.

An Uber self-driving SUV
Uber semi-autonomous car

Alphabet is asking a judge to find Uber in contempt for failing to notify the court that former CEO Travis Kalanick was aware one of his top executives had proprietary Alphabet information in his possession and that he ordered its destruction.

The executive, Anthony Levandowski, allegedly told Kalanick and two other employees in March 2016 that he had five discs containing Alphabet documents, several months before the ride-hail company acquired his startup, Otto.

Levandowski, who had previously led Alphabet’s self-driving car project, has been accused of stealing technology and taking it to Uber.

Judge William Alsup recently ordered Uber to produce documents and correspondence related to the case, including information showing whether any evidence had been destroyed. On Wednesday, Alphabet cited a June 5 Uber court filing that shows Kalanick asked Levandowski to destroy the documents in question. Uber had to present the information by March of this year but didn’t report its findings until June.

Uber’s June 8 filing reads:

On or about March 11, 2016, Mr. Levandowski reported to Mr. Kalanick, Nina Qi and Cameron Poetzscher at Uber as well as Lior Ron that he had identified five discs in his possession containing Google information. Mr. Kalanick conveyed to Mr. Levandowski in response that Mr. Levandowski should not bring any Google information into Uber and that Uber did not want any Google information. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Levandowski communicated to Uber that he had destroyed the discs.

This was around the same time that Levandowski began consulting for Uber’s self-driving arm, as we reported.

The ride-hail company maintains that none of these documents made it to Uber and that Kalanick did not encourage Levandowski to bring the files to the company, a condition that was also included in his employee agreement. On May 30, Uber fired Levandowski, who pleaded the Fifth Amendment earlier in the case, for not complying with the court’s orders.

Uber was also directed by the court to produce a report from Stroz Friedberg, a forensic firm that Uber had hired to conduct a due diligence report on Otto before the acquisition. The report could reveal if Uber was made aware of any Alphabet technology Levandowski may be using within Otto.

Now Stroz is required to produce the report, the identities of the Otto employees that participated in the report and any documents those employees produced for the report.

Levandowski, who is not a party to the suit and is not represented by Uber’s attorneys, previously argued that those documents are protected by attorney-client privilege. The judge disagreed and compelled Uber to produce the report.

“Uber’s attorneys did not hire Stroz on behalf of Levandowski and Uber; they hired Stroz to investigate Levandowski,” the order reads.

“It follows, then, that an order compelling Stroz to produce these materials does not violate Levandowski’s Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination.”

Uber is in the midst of navigating a major upheaval, with Tuesday’s resignation of its CEO Travis Kalanick and the shuffling of key board members, but this lawsuit could prove to be the company’s biggest threat. The embattled ride-hail player could face criminal charges over the possession of stolen documents, though the judge has previously chided Alphabet for lack of evidence that those files Levandowski allegedly downloaded made it to Uber.

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