Business

Uber loses bid to avoid trial in Waymo case

Sorry bros, you'll have to tell it to the jury – and give us the Stroz Report too

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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Uber has lost a pair of appeals at the center of its ongoing trade secrets case with the Alphabet-owned Waymo Inc.

In separate rulings, the Washington, DC, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the ride-sharing giant would not be able to move the case to an independent arbiter, making a trial likely.

Uber had asked the appeals court to rule that two arbitration agreements Waymo entered into with Anthony Levandowski while he was an employee would prevent the company from moving forward with its lawsuit accusing both Levandowski and Uber of conspiring to steal Waymo's self-driving car technology.

Echoing an earlier ruling from a California US District Court, the Appeals Court panel ruled that Uber was not covered in that agreement and that Waymo's lawsuit would not be restricted by the arbitration deals.

"The California courts have, in a few situations, compelled arbitration against an entity that was not a party to an arbitration agreement," the panel said in its opinion [PDF].

"The district court explored this precedent, and concluded that the present case did not warrant compulsion to arbitrate."

Meanwhile, Levandowski and Uber were also handed a defeat in a separate appeals case around the admissibility of a report Uber commissioned before it acquired Levandowski's startup Ottomotto.

The document, known as the "Stroz Report," investigated Levandowski and other former Waymo employees who had left the company to join Ottomotto.

Believing the report key to their claim of trade secret theft, Waymo had subpoenaed both the report itself and the firm that had compiled it, Stroz Friedberg, LLC. Levandowski and Uber had unsuccessfully lobbied to have the report barred on the grounds it was covered by attorney-client privilege.

"Mr Levandowski contends that disclosure of the Stroz Report would be 'particularly injurious or novel'," the court said in its ruling [PDF].

"His arguments are unpersuasive, for it is apparent that Mr Levandowski cannot invoke attorney-client privilege or work-product protection."

Meanwhile, the Waymo v Uber case itself is ongoing back in the San Francisco US District Court. ®

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