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Uber threatens to sack Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of Waymo’s accusations

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Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber are presently embroiled in a fierce legal battle which involves the alleged theft of confidential trade secrets. Now, fresh reports suggesting that the ride-hailing giant threatens to dismiss the former Googler, Anthony Levandowski from its self-driving ATG efforts have flooded the interwebs.

This unexpected development in the ongoing stand-off between two of the most prominent technology giants working to make self-driving vehicle ubiquitous has been revealed in a court filing on Thursday, reports Reuters. Through the said documents, it has been revealed that Uber plans to fire Levandowski if he doesn’t co-operate in the Uber vs. Waymo lawsuit.

The ride-hailing giant has instructed him to return the documents he has allegedly stolen from Google’s elf-driving division before departing to start his own self-driving truck startup — Otto. Uber purchased the said startup for a hefty $690 million to step foot in the trucking business, which it launched just yesterday. The technology brought over by the ex-Google executive has, however, been called into question in a patent infringement court battle.

It seems the ride-hailing giant is finally taking heed from the words spoken by Judge Alsup in the various court meetings. He even called out Levandowski, who’ been fairly silent during the court meetings, for hiding behind the veil of his Fifth Amendment rights. The said decision to protect himself against self-incrimination, an attempt to avoid what his legal counsel said was the potential for criminal charges has been rebuked my many.

Thus, Uber is now resorting to extreme measures to push its current executive to come clean and hand over the documents back to Waymo to end this stenuous situation. This is surprising because Uber had been supporting its star executive till date, but a fissure in their relation has started to occur. It will result badly for Levandowski, who’s already been removed from the self-driving project and asked by the Judge to stay away from the same. In the court filing, Uber’s general counsel Salle Yoo said:

While we have respected your personal liberties, it is our view that the court’s order requires us to make these demands of you. We insist that you do everything in your power to assist us in complying with the order.

As for the background, Levandowski along with a handful of former executives of Alphabet’s spin-off self-driving division Waymo, have been accused of leaving the company with heaps of internal secrets and documents in tow. Levandowski was heading Google’s self-driving efforts at the time.

He is alleged of stealing 9.7GB worth of Waymo’s highly confidential documents and trade secrets, such as blueprints, design files and testing documentation — over 14,000. It has accused of Uber using the same to develop its LiDAR, one of the most important sensors that helps self-driving vehicles see its surroundings.

Earlier in the day, there has also been another significant update regrading the tussle between Waymo and Uber. The District Court Judge has ruled that the lawsuit is now going to trial and recommended the same to federal prosecutors for a criminal investigation. But, the ride-hailing behemoth is yet again appealed the judge’s decision and pushing for private arbitration to resolve the situation at hand.

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