US District Court Judge William Alsup continues to offer zero sympathy to Uber in the lawsuit brought against it by Waymo, delivering more stern rulings against the ridesharing company.
Firstly, Judge Alsup has ruled that Uber must turn over the due diligence report the company compiled before acquiring Otto, the self-driving car startup founded by former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski. Uber acquired Otto for nearly $700 million, bringing Levandowski aboard to head its own automated transport division. Uber had been trying to keep the report out of the suit’s discovery process by claiming it was covered by attorney-client privilege.
Alsup also denied Uber’s request for a delay in litigation while Uber appeals Alsup’s previous ruling that denied their request for binding arbitration in lieu of a trial. The case is expected to begin formal arguments on October 2.
Alsup also declined to modify a previous ruling that demanded that Uber use the “full extent” of its powers as an employer to compel Levandowski to turn over evidence. Levandowski continued to refuse, citing the 5th Amendment right to protection from self-incrimination. Uber fired him as a result.
On Tuesday, Levandowski’s lawyers argued the judge overstepped in ordering Uber to force Levandowski to choose between his employment and his Fifth Amendment rights. But Alsup didn’t buy it, saying “I’m not taking back a single word” of the order.
“A private employer like Uber has the authority to say to its employees, ‘either cooperate with the internal investigation, or you’re going to be fired or have other adverse action taken against you,’” he said. “A federal district court surely has the right to order…a defendant to do something that it has the authority to do on its own.”
The judge did issue a word of caution to Waymo, however, noting that its trade secrets case is significantly more solid than its patent infringement claims and that the Google family company needs to prune its case back a bit.