A federal circuit judge dealt a blow to Uber in Alphabet’s lawsuit against the ride-hailing company. The judge has compelled Uber to turn over a key document related to alleged theft of files from Alphabet’s self-driving division Waymo.
The document is a report Uber commissioned when it was looking at buying self-driving truck startup Otto. The report was prepared by cybersecurity and firm Stroz Friedberg.
Alphabet has been fighting to get hold of this document for months, arguing it could contain critical information for its case against Uber. Uber and Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski have fought the motion to produce this document. Levandowski joined Uber following the acquisition of Otto, and he was appointed to lead Uber’s self-driving department. Levandowski was fired in May for not cooperating with the lawsuit.
Alphabet is suing Uber for trade secret misappropriation, alleging Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files of proprietary information to bring it to Uber.
Levandowski, who asserted his Fifth Amendment rights early on in this case, argued that this document was covered by those rights on the basis of attorney-client privilege and that it could serve to incriminate him. That argument did not hold water and a judge twice has granted Alphabet’s motion to get ahold of these documents.
Levandowski appealed that decision but a judge again quashed his attempt to prevent Uber and Stroz Friedberg from producing the document.
“Mr. Levandowski cannot prevent Uber and Stroz from producing the Stroz Report for consideration in this civil action solely because it ‘may incriminate him.’”
“We did not join Mr. Levandowski’s appeal to block disclosure of the report, and we are ready to finally disclose it to Waymo today,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “While Waymo has obtained over 238,000 pages of production documents from Uber and conducted a dozen inspections over 61 hours of our facilities, source code, documents, and engineers’ computers, there's still no evidence that any files have come to Uber, let alone that they're being used."
The judge has also denied Uber’s appeal of the court’s decision not to send this case to arbitration.
This is just one in a series of legal issues that Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has to navigate. The stakes of the case may be enough to convince Khosrowshahi, who has only been on the job for about two weeks, to try to push for a settlement.
"Since filing this case, Waymo has found significant and direct evidence that Uber is using stolen Waymo trade secrets in its technology,” an Alphabet spokesperson said. “We are still reviewing materials received late in the discovery process and we look forward to reviewing the Stroz Report and related materials."
Here’s the full ruling:
Federal Circuit Order Re Stroz by Johana Bhuiyan on Scribd
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.