If you haven’t been paying attention to the massive trade secret lawsuit between Uber and Google, here’s a brief summary. A former Google employee who worked in Google’s parent company’s self-driving division, Waymo, left the company and created his own self-driving company, which was bought by Uber last year for $680 million. Since then, Waymo has sued Uber for using the trade secrets that Waymo alleges this employee took from them to start that new self-driving car company.
So that’s the brief synopsis of the story, but there has been a major development: the employee at the heart of the matter, Anthony Levandowski, has been fired by Uber for failing to cooperate with the company’s own internal investigation. Uber claims that they have been asking him to turn over critical information in the case for months, but that he has failed to comply. Levandowski says he was simply asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
The details here are immense, and there are a lot of possibilities for what actually happened. But we chose this story today to highlight a general legal concern: trade secrets are very valuable and they can be the basis of a successful business.
Trade secrets can be such a powerful foundation, in fact, that when they are leaked to the public or stolen and utilized by a different, the original company can suffer immense financial losses. Those companies that are wrong in this way need to consider legal action.
Source: Forbes, “Uber Fires Driverless Car Engineer Who Triggered Google Trade Secret Lawsuit,” Alan Ohnsman, May 30, 2017