Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Syria on the Brink: Can Assad help the Kurds against Turkish forces?

Read more

FOCUS

Inside the murky business of cobalt mining in DR Congo

Read more

ENCORE!

100% Pure Parisian: Comedian Julie Collas helps locals laugh at themselves

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Chinese textile wholesalers open Marseille site

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Meet Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer: Angela Merkel's 'mini-me'

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Major French student union rocked by sexual assault claims

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Photographer Pete Souza shares his ‘portrait’ of Obama

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Zuma ally Atul Gupta challenges asset freeze

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gun control continues to trend on US social media

Read more

Waymo, Uber end trade secrets theft trial with settlement

© AFP / by Julie CHARPENTRAT, with Rob Lever in Washington | Waymo CEO John Krafcik arrives at the start of a trial pitting the former Google car unit against Uber over allegedly stolen trade secrets, a case settled by the two companies on Friday

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - 

Waymo and Uber announced an agreement Friday in the blockbuster federal lawsuit over allegedly stolen trade secrets from the former Google self-driving car project.

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

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

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

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

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a separate statement that "while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo 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.

- High-stakes trial -

Alphabet's Waymo division was seeking at least $1 billion over the theft of secrets from its self-driving car program in the trial before federal judge William Alsup.

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 Google engineer 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 Google 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 CEO last year.

"My job as Uber's CEO 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 Alphabet that the incredible people at Uber ATG 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 autonomous cars and has ordered an estimated 24,000 cars from Volvo 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 Fiat Chrysler for its service.

The sector also includes most major automakers, technology platforms and ride services such as Lyft.

by Julie CHARPENTRAT, with Rob Lever in Washington

© 2018 AFP