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Waymo vs Uber: As the case opens, a convoy of allegations

Waymo vs Uber: As the case opens, a convoy of allegations

Uber implied that Waymo brought the case because it was anxious that it was bleeding talent.

Uber's ex-Chief Executive Travis Kalanick must subdue his notorious hot-headed demeanour and calmly withstand hostile questioning to appear sympathetic to jurors when he is cross-examined by Alphabet Inc's Waymo as early as Tuesday during a trade-secrets trial, legal experts said.

Kalanick, a tech executive who became famous for his take-no-prisoners attitude, was confident, curt and sometimes vague when he faced questions created to help Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven build his case.

Kalanick said he promised Levandowski and his team almost $600 million in incentive payments if they met certain technical milestones with the development of self-driving auto systems. He drove Uber's 2016 acquisition of Otto, the self-driving truck startup founded by Levandowski, which merged the companies' businesses and put Levandowski in charge of Uber's autonomous-driving unit.

The trial is likely to be closely monitored by Nasdaq-listed internet search company Baidu, which is engaged in a similar dispute in China against the former head of its autonomous driving unit and the self-driving technology start-up that he launched a year ago.

JingChi recently started a three-month public trial of its fleet of self-driving cars in the southern coastal city of Guangzhou.

Uber countered, also pointing out that Google engineers had said during investigations that the technology stolen by Levandowski was not crucial to the function of its own vehicle efforts.

In his February 2015 email to co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the head of Google's self-driving vehicle project, Chris Urmson, wrote that Uber was acquiring people who he had suggested Google hire more than a year earlier "but was denied the opportunity to do so". Dolgov cited initiatives of Baidu, ride-hailing companies Didi Chuxing and Lyft, and carmakers.

Verhoeven questioned Kalanick at a pretrial deposition a year ago.

Waymo calling Kalanick as one of its own witnesses is a classic strategy, Hueston said, because it allows Waymo to question him first and try to make him uncomfortable from the moment he begins testifying. Next up will be Uber's lawyers, whose first witness will be Kalanick. The emails illustrated the company's fear of losing to Uber. Waymo has accused the ride-hailing app of stealing and using trade secrets for technology surrounding the new autonomous vehicle.

Patented information, Alsup said, is not the subject of this lawsuit. "That's a no-no. But if you independently develop a trade secret, you can't sue them over it".

Uber retorted that Waymo's entire presentation was untrue.

Gonzalez persisted, asking if anyone ever get a bonus for coming up said trade secrets? Dolgov replied no in each instance.

Uber proceeded to show a 2011 e-mail where it was presented that Google had not trusted Levandowski either, but still employed him.

Uber's lawyer countered that days later, Levandowski's desktop computer was wiped clean of data in a move that was routine when an employee left Google.

Google's Waymo is the widely acknowledged leader in self-driving technology. He will also be called by Uber to testify. It contained images of a circuit board that Grossman recognized as being similar to the ones used in Google's LiDAR.

After what is expected to be two weeks of testimony, the jury will have to decide whether the eight apparent trade secrets were indeed such, and not common knowledge, and whether improperly acquired them, used them and benefited from them.

"I thought I'd made a ruling that you couldn't for one second suggest the Gorilla Circuits was a trade secret", Alsup said.

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