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Uber Pays Waymo $245 Million to Reach Settlement On Trade Secrets
11 February 2018, 07:57 | Joann Bryant
Waymo, Uber settle driverless-car suit
Uber is to settle a lawsuit against it brought by autonomous auto business Waymo, a sister company to Google, regarding the theft of self-driving vehicle technology. Kalanick has acknowledged discussing plans for Otto with Levandowski before he started it, though both he and Uber deny using any Google technology to build a fleet of self-driving cars.
Reuters provides more: "The settlement allows Uber's chief executive officer, Dara Khosrowshahi, to put another scandal behind the company and move ahead with development of self-driving technology, following the tumultuous leadership by former CEO Travis Kalanick, who testified at the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday".
Uber's CEO also "expressed regret for the actions" that led to the lawsuit.
The payment, to be made in Uber's stock, is a fraction of the almost US$2 billion in damages that a Waymo expert had estimated Uber's alleged theft had caused, but US District Judge William Alsup refused to allow Waymo to use that figure in the trial.
Khosrowshahi's statement added that Uber does not believe that his company acquired trade secrets from Waymo or used any proprietary information in its self-driving technology.
The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a separate, criminal investigation into the trade secrets.
"As Uber's statement indicates, no trade secrets ever came to Uber", the statement said.
Levandowski has never publicly addressed the allegations of taking the documents and law enforcement has not charged anyone with their theft.
Levandowski may have been called to the stand Friday, where he was expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, a possibility that may have significantly blemished Uber's case, some observers noted.
The Waymo lawsuit was the most pressing legal battle for Uber, but only one item in a long list of controversies that has dogged the company for the a year ago.
Uber, which is the world's biggest ride-hailing service, is seeking to be a major player in autonomous cars and has ordered an estimated 24,000 cars from Volvo for its project set to launch in the coming years. The company has also suffered from turmoil at the top with the ousting of Mr. Kalanick in June and a bitter board dispute.
"To our friends at Alphabet: we are partners, you are an important investor in Uber, and we share a deep belief in the power of technology to change people's lives for the better", Khosrowshahi said in the statement. It is far from achieving those ambitions.
Levandowski apologized to Uber employees for any distraction arising from the clash with Google. It was an early investor in Uber and, although it sold some of its stock late past year, it still holds a significant stake in Uber. SoftBank bought the majority of its stake at about a 30% discount from Uber's valuation.
The chauffeur-driven vehicle reservation service also expressed its "regrets" and pledged to use only its own technologies in the development of its autonomous auto, seen as the grail of public transport of the future and likely to generate Billions of dollars in revenue.
"We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology", a Waymo spokesperson said. "The evidence at trial overwhelmingly proved that, and had the trial proceeded to its conclusion, it is clear Uber would have prevailed", the statement said.
Waymo said in a statement: "We have reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo's intellectual property now and into the future".
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