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Waymo, Uber end trade secrets theft trial with settlement

AFP  |  San Francisco 

and announced an agreement today in the blockbuster federal lawsuit over allegedly stolen trade secrets from the former self- driving

The agreement ends a trial between two Silicon Valley rivals competing in a race to develop after four days of testimony before a in San Francisco.

According to a source familiar with the confidential deal, agreed to a financial settlement giving the unit 0.34 percent of shares -- which would be some USD 244 million based on Uber's valuation of USD 72 billion.

Uber also agreed not to use any of Waymo's technology for autonomous driving as part of the settlement.

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. We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology."

Uber chief executive said in a separate statement that "while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from to Uber ... we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work."

The trial so far included testimony from former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, who denied a conspiracy to steal trade secrets in a tense two-day court appearance.

Alphabet's Waymo division was seeking at least USD 1 billion over the theft of secrets from its self-driving car program in the trial before

If the case had gone to the jury and Waymo had prevailed, it would have dealt a severe blow to Uber's efforts to widely deploy self-driving vehicles as part of its ridesharing operations -- a field that also includes Waymo and other rivals.

Waymo had alleged Uber conspired with former Anthony Levandowski, who had been accused of downloading thousands of proprietary documents before leaving the company and ending up at Uber.

Levandowski, who was on the list as a possible witness, left for his own startup called Otto, which was later acquired by Uber.

The case hinged on Waymo's ability to show not only that Levandowski had taken Google's private source code, but that Uber had used it improperly to catch up with rivals.

Khosrowshahi said in a statement he regretted the handling of the Levandowski matter, which occurred before he took over as last year.

"My job as Uber's is to set the course for the future of the company: innovating and growing responsibly, as well as acknowledging and correcting mistakes of the past," he said.

"In doing so, I want to express regret for the actions that have caused me to write this letter."

He added, "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. Of course, we are also competitors."

The settlement comes with Uber seeking to turn the page following a series of scandals over alleged misconduct and a cut-throat workplace culture, as new chief executive Khosrowshahi strives to prepare for a stock market debut in 2019.

"While I cannot erase the past, I can commit, on behalf of every Uber employee, that we will learn from it, and it will inform our actions going forward," Khosrowshahi said.

"I've told that the incredible people at Uber are focused on ensuring that our development represents the very best of Uber's innovation and experience in self- driving technology."

Uber, which is the world's biggest ride-hailing service, is seeking to be a major player in and has ordered an estimated 24,000 cars from for its project set to launch in the coming years.

Waymo is deploying its own self-driving rideshare program at the same time and has ordered "thousands" of vehicles from for its service.

The sector also includes most major automakers, and such as

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 23:55 IST