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Uber, Waymo Reach $245 Million Settlement in Self-Driving Cars Case

Summary: Uber and Waymo have settled their trade secrets legal battle.

Uber has agreed to pay Waymo $245 million in equity, ending the two parties’ battle over trade secrets.

On Friday morning, the first week of testimony in the trial was ending, Business Insider said, but the two parties decided to stop the proceedings. They announced a surprise settlement, and Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, said that he regretted the actions that led to the lawsuit.

“We agree that Uber’s acquisition of Otto could and should have been handled differently,” Khosrowshahi stated.

Khosrowshahi was referring to the self-driving car company that Uber had acquired in 2016. The company, Otto, was founded by Anthony Levandowski, a self-driving technology engineer who had previously worked at Google, which is owned by Alphabet. Alphabet, who also owns Waymo, said that Levandowski had stolen their trade secrets and given them to Uber.

Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving technology company, sued Uber in February of 2017. The lawsuit was contentious, and Uber was accused of destroying evidence during discovery.

On Friday, Uber said that they will pay Waymo 0.34% of Uber equity. The company has been valued at $72 billion, which means Waymo stands to collect hundreds of millions of dollars.

Khosrowshahi added in his statement that Uber’s self-driving technology does not include any intellectual property from Waymo, and that they were committed to doing good, honest work.

“We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology,” Khosrowshahi said. “This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software. We have always believed competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads and we look forward to bringing fully self-driving cars to the world.”

Khosrowshahi took over as head of the company after it ousted founder Travis Kalanick, who has been accused of creating a toxic work environment and being ruthless in growing his ride-share business into a multi-billion dollar brand.

Before the settlement, Uber denied stealing trade secrets from Waymo, but Waymo and Alphabet said that Levandowski had downloaded thousands of files while working at Google and he had used that information in his own work.

During the discovery process, Uber had asked Levandowski to turn in his files to be searched, but he had refused, citing his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself. In April, Levandowski resigned from working on Uber’s lidar technology, which allows the self-driving cars to “see” using radar.

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Teresa Lo :