Waymo, formerly Google’s self-driving car unit, is suing Otto — the self-driving trucking company co-founded by former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski and quickly acquired by Uber — for allegedly stealing the company’s proprietary design for its laser-based radar system.
According to Waymo, before Levandowski left what was then a part of Google’s moonshot labs, he downloaded 14,000 “highly confidential” files to an external hard drive, including the design for the company’s lidar circuit board.
The company decided to perform a forensic investigation of Levandowski’s former company computer after a Waymo employee was inadvertently copied on an email from a lidar supplier with the subject line “Otto Files.” The email was being sent to a list of people that Waymo believes were Uber employees. Attached to the email were drawings of Otto’s lidar circuit board.
It looked just like Waymo’s design, the company alleged in the suit filed today, “the design of which had been downloaded by Mr. Levandowski before his resignation.”
“The Replicated Board reflects Waymo’s highly confidential proprietary LiDAR technology and Waymo trade secrets,” the complaint reads. “Moreover, the Replicated Board is specifically designed to be used in conjunction with many other Waymo trade secrets and in the context of overall LiDAR systems covered by Waymo patents.”