By on June 23, 2017

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It would seem Waymo’s case against Uber is progressing at the latter’s expense. Anthony Levandowski, the former Uber employee at the center of the intellectual property theft, was apparently covered in writing for any legal action taken against for things like… fraud and stealing trade secrets.

The clause, which is literally outlined as “Pre-Signing Bad Acts” in the contract, was part of closed documents U.S. District Judge William Alsup previously assumed would be invaluable in progressing the case. Alphabet, which owns Waymo, accused Uber of being complicit in Levandowski’s alleged theft – suggesting the ride-sharing rival intentionally hired him in the hopes he would bring inside information acquired during his tenure at Google. It was a notion Alsup also seemed more than willing to entertain.

“It remains entirely possible that Uber knowingly left Levandowski free to keep that treasure trove of files as handy as he wished [provided he keep the data on his own personal devices], and that Uber willfully refused to tell Levandowski to return the treasure trove to its rightful owner,” the judge said back in May

Uber’s contract with the engineer further bolsters that assumption, as it specifically promises to cover the costs of legal actions taken against him over information stored in his head from his previous position at Alphabet.

Jim Pooley, a lawyer at Orrick in Menlo Park, California, told The Washington Post and Bloomberg that he has never seen a written agreement that makes an overt and explicit reference to bad acts. “What Uber did was to leave the door open for Levandowski to use whatever he remembered of Waymo’s trade secret information, so long as he didn’t deliberately memorize it,” the lawyer explained.

Pooley views the documents as particularly damning, as it suggests Uber either knew or assumed their new hire had stolen trade secrets. However, the ride-sharing firm’s legal representation is claiming the “bad acts” clause was simply a case of Uber being extra careful.

“This provision shows how serious we were about preventing any Waymo trade secrets from ever coming to Uber,” Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Uber, said in an emailed statement. “We explicitly did not want any Otto employee using any such information, whatever its source. The law in California recognizes that while it is of course not possible to erase people’s memories, that does not prevent employees from changing jobs, even between competitors. The law permits those employees to use their expertise to do their jobs.”

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5 Comments on “Uber’s Contract With Notorious Employee Apparently Included Bad Behavior Clause...”

  • avatar

    Nice. America’s main go-to point, tech, against losing manufacturing jobs to organizations of less-stupid, more focused, executives, is now falling apart.

    ‘Uber’ on a resume now looks like ‘A-hole’.

  • avatar

    It’s a shame that the aura around so much innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship is tainted by the fact that the culture in which it all grew was so sleazy. Hopefully the change of management will bring a positive philosophy which will match the brilliance of the product. It deserves to happen.

  • avatar

    An amazing lack of TTAC comment on this topic.
    I.E. There is no debate of the jerks running Uber.
    Evidence in court, I would say.
    Shame on them.

  • avatar

    Taxi laws do function as restraint of trade, (thinking the NYC Medallion scam) but

    A business that is founded on total defiance of…
    Driver licensing….
    Car inspections….
    Local Regulations….
    Proper insurance coverage for a public conveyance….

    Uber is simply a leverage of other people’s cars, and time… Other People’s Money, but instead of it bing a big loan, Uber figured out a way to use “the little people”.

    What could go wrong ?

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