Waymo has dropped three of four patent-infringement claims in its lawsuit against Uber. The reason behind this is given that three of those patent infringement claims were related to a specific “Spider” lidar design that is no longer used by Uber while the fourth patent claim is related to another lidar design, “Fuji,” which is still being used by Uber. Waymo is not known for patent fights and a better part of Waymo’s cases are not over patents, but trade secrets. So when the company had filed the lawsuit on patent-infringement it had surprised many.
It is known that Waymo had sued Uber alleging that Uber had stolen trade secrets from Waymo when Anthony Levandowski, who worked for Waymo, downloaded 14,000 files to his personal computer and then joined Uber to lead the startup’s driverless car program.
Uber reacting to this move has called it “Waymo’s retreat” and said “.. Not only have they uncovered zero evidence of any of the 14,000 files in question coming to Uber, they now admit that Uber’s LiDAR design is actually very different than theirs. Faced with this hard truth, Waymo has resorted to floating conspiracy theories not rooted in fact, doing everything they can to put the focus on sensation rather than substance.”
Another important development is that the Uber’s lawyers have been granted the ability to depose Alphabet CEO Larry Page ahead of trial. Uber’s lawyers can question Page over why the company chose not to partner with Uber, a company it had invested in, as part of its autonomous driving efforts.
Both the companies have also been asked to simplify the scope of the case so the claims of both the parties can be assessed properly. The U.S. District Judge has also asked Waymo to narrow its theft of trade secret claims from more than 100 down to 10.