SAN FRANCISCO — After nearly a year of battling it out in headlines, ride-hailing giant Uber agreed to settle the trade secrets theft lawsuit brought by self-driving company Waymo.
Before the fifth day of trial was to begin Friday, Feb. 9, Charles Verhoeven, an attorney at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan representing Waymo, told presiding Judge William Alsup that the companies had agreed to a settlement. The agreement includes a payment from Uber worth 0.34 percent of its $72 billion valuation, or $244.8 million.
The agreement stipulates that Uber may not use Waymo's hardware or software intellectual property, though the trade secrets at issue in the lawsuit only covered self-driving hardware.
"While we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo's proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our lidar and software represents just our good work," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in an emailed statement.
Waymo announced its suit against Uber on Feb. 23, 2017, after an email from a supplier to Uber landed in the Google affiliate's inbox. The email contained designs for a lidar sensor similar to Waymo's in-house device, leading to an investigation into former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, whose self-driving startup, Otto, was acquired by Uber in August 2016. Waymo said its investigation showed that Levandowski had stolen more than 14,000 files before departing Google in January 2016.
On Friday, Waymo lawyers had planned to go over the technical aspects of the alleged trade secrets, and had Uber engineers who had previously worked with Levandowski at Google, Otto and other startups on its witness list, including Gaetan Pennecot, Dan Gruver and James Haslim.
"The prospect that a couple of Waymo employees may have inappropriately solicited others to join Otto, and that they may have potentially left with Google files in their possession, in retrospect, raised some hard questions," Khosrowshahi said.
Throughout the year after the lawsuit was filed, details of both companies' practices splashed across headlines. During the past week in court, those practices were combed through in detail, revealing bellicose language within Uber and possessiveness over a technological lead at Waymo.
"We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology," a Waymo spokesman said in a statement. "This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software."