In a dramatic, last-minute turn of events, Uber has been cited for withholding evidence in a lawsuit brought by competitor Alphabet.
The U.S. attorney of the Northern District of California notified the judge presiding over the case Judge Alsup last week that there was evidence that Uber had not disclosed either to the court or to Alphabet’s self-driving arm, Waymo. Alsup referred the case to the U.S. attorney’s office in May 2017
Alphabet is suing Uber for allegedly misappropriating self-driving trade secrets.
Due to the new revelations Alphabet has been granted another delay in its trial against Uber, Just days before the companies are expected to begin the jury selection process, Alsup ordered that Alphabet be given more time to delve into new evidence that Uber provided last week.
In response to the new evidence, Judge Alsup subpoenaed Uber’s deputy general counsel Angela Padilla and Uber’s former global security officer Richard Jacobs to testify during a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday. The pre-trial hearing is currently in session. Alsup has yet to set a new trial date.
According to new filings, Jacobs’ attorney wrote a letter to Padilla that Waymo argues should have been disclosed as part of the discovery process. Uber turned over a highly redacted version of that letter just before midnight on November 24. Jury selection was set to begin on December 4.
“Uber has so far not disputed that the Jacobs letter and documents and information regarding Uber’s conduct described therein was responsive to Waymo’s discovery requests or Court Orders,” the filing reads.
Alsup is in the middle of conducting an evidentiary hearing on the letter and has called Jacobs to the stand. There is a possibility that the judge can decide not to proceed with the trial delay if enough information is revealed today.
This delay is just a small wrinkle in the ongoing legal saga between the companies. The larger issue for Uber is that this could given credence to Waymo’s argument that members of the jury be notified that Uber destroyed or did not disclose relevant evidence as the company was required to by the court.
There’s little public about Jacobs’ letter since it’s under seal. But Waymo’s questioning reveals a bit more about what it may have entailed.
Waymo quotes Jacobs’ atty letter: “Jacobs became aware that Uber thru Clark & Henley, had a sophisticated strategy to conceal, cover up or destroy docs w intent to impede govt investigations.”— Carolyn Said (@CSaid) November 28, 2017
The trial, originally set to begin in the beginning of October, was pushed to Dec. 4 after Uber turned over a due diligence document it commissioned when acquiring self-driving trucking startup Otto.
“Given Uber’s consistent failures to meet its discovery obligations in this case, and apparent misrepresentations to this Court, Waymo has no choice but to seek a continuance of the trial date to enable Waymo to take additional discovery on this new information that is indisputably relevant to Waymo’s trade secret misappropriation claims,” the filing continues.