Levandowski by John Sommers II for TT

Uber Technologies Inc. has an alibi for Alphabet Inc.’s allegations of trade-secrets theft — the ride-hailing company’s driverless car technology is completely different from its rival’s designs.

Uber is trying to persuade a judge not to issue an order that might stall the development of its autonomous driving technology, and possibly even sideline the head of the project, engineer Anthony Levandowski.

In asserting its key defenses publicly April 7 for the first time, six weeks after Waymo sued, Uber argues it’s been wrongly accused. It doesn’t even possess thousands of files of proprietary information Waymo says it stole and wouldn’t need them to advance its own self-driving vehicle program, as it’s relying on an in-house design with radically different features than Waymo’s, according to a court filing.

“Waymo’s injunction motion is a misfire: there is no evidence that any of the 14,000 files in question ever touched Uber’s servers and Waymo’s assertion that our multi-lens lidar is the same as their single-lens lidar is clearly false,” Uber’s associate general counsel, Angela Padilla, said in a statement.

Waymo alleges Levandowski plotted his betrayal to Uber while he was still an executive at the Google unit. He and two other Waymo employees are accused of downloading thousands of confidential files, including lidar circuit board designs, before he left Waymo last year and launched his own self-driving truck startup, Otto, that was acquired by Uber for $680 million.

Waymo said April 7 that Uber’s assertion it’s never touched the 14,000 files is “disingenuous at best, given their refusal to look in the most obvious place: the computers and devices owned by the head of their self-driving program.”

“We’re asking the court to step in based on clear evidence that Uber is using, or plans to use, our trade secrets to develop their lidar technology, as seen in both circuit board blueprints and filings in the state of Nevada,” the company said in a statement.

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By Joel Rosenblatt and Mark Bergen
Bloomberg News


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