Waymo wants Uber to pay $2.6 billion in damages—just for starters

Enlarge / Employees inspect an Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh last year.
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Waymo will be seeking at least $2.6 billion in damages against Uber in an upcoming trade secret trial, which could start next month.

The figure was revealed by an attorney for Uber during a court hearing today, according to Reuters. The massive damage payout was apparently what Waymo was demanding for just one of the trade secrets it will be taking to trial. At present, the company is planning to present nine different trade secrets that Uber allegedly stole and used to the jury.

Waymo sued Uber in February, accusing Uber of using its trade secrets in its self-driving car technology. Lawyers for Waymo say that Anthony Levandowski, who was head of Uber’s self-driving car project, illegally downloaded more than 14,000 files just before he left his job at Google. After leaving Google, Levandowski founded his own startup, Otto. He sold that company to Uber in mid-2016 for $680 million.

Uber has denied using any trade secrets, which it says never made it to Uber servers. Levandowski, who is not a defendant in the case, was fired from Uber after he wouldn’t cooperate with court-ordered discovery.

The figure is the first hint of what Waymo might want as compensation for Levandowski’s alleged theft. The company could also ask for a court-ordered injunction that could hamper Uber’s efforts to work on self-driving cars, a technology that Uber considers critical to its future business.

Over the weekend, Waymo asked for a delay in the trial date, saying that Uber only recently handed over a “mountain of new evidence.” Uber has opposed a delay, saying that Waymo is trying to “shore up its shaky case.”

US District Judge William Alsup, who is overseeing the case, hasn’t yet ruled on whether the trial should be delayed or go forward in October.

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