Uber is bombarding us with painfully probing subpoenas, cries Lyft

Dial-a-ride upstart says its main rival is using courts to plunder trade secrets

Lyft has asked a judge to block taxi app rival Uber from using the courts to cunningly extract information about its operations.

In a filing [PDF] to the Northern California District Court, Lyft asks that Uber be stopped from getting any further internal memos and other details using subpoenas.

Uber filed the subpoenas while defending itself against a class-action lawsuit brought after names and license plates for 50,000 of its drivers were leaked online. That class-action suit, which was dismissed last October but is still open for an amended complaint, accused Uber of failing to properly secure a database.

During an investigation into its security cockup, Uber turned its focus to Lyft and the possibility that an employee at its rival had improperly accessed the Uber database and lifted its records.

“There is no evidence that any Lyft employee downloaded the Uber driver information or database, or had anything to do with Uber’s May 2014 data breach," a spokesperson for Lyft told us on Friday.

However, this investigation is where Lyft takes issue with Uber. The company claims that Uber's lawyers have used the probe as an excuse to pry into Lyft's inner workings by submitting 11 subpoenas and asking for potentially sensitive information that Lyft considers trade secrets.

"Uber's discovery is not focused on the data breach; it is directed at (and targets information about) an employee of its main competitor, Lyft," the filing reads.

"Uber's discovery is sweeping in scope and time and seeks information far beyond the alleged May 12, 2014 data breach (or this litigation); and Uber seeks unrestricted access to X's computers, emails, and chat messages (including confidential Lyft information). And to avoid having to explain its invasive efforts, Uber has flatly refused to meet and confer with Lyft in any way on its discovery requests – despite explicitly seeking Lyft's confidential materials."

Lyft also accuses Uber of stringing along the appeals process of the dismissal so that it can continue to dig into Lyft for more information, stating that "Uber's recalcitrance – and its efforts to use this lawsuit to further its own interests – have left Lyft with no choice but to file this motion."

Lyft is asking for a March 24 hearing to have the court consider its motion, and in the meantime wants the court to prevent Uber from moving forward with any further attempts to extract information from Lyft and its employees. ®

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