Judge postpones Uber trade secret trial based on bombshell memo

Trial pitting Waymo against Uber further delayed

The letter contended that Jacobs had been wrongfully demoted, then fired for trying to stop the company's alleged misconduct.

Uber is accused of using cloak-and-dagger tactics.

The hearing instead quickly turned into a forum raising more questions about Uber's ethics and corporate culture.

Jury selection was set to begin November 29 in a case over Waymo's allegations that Uber stole trade secrets covering its autonomous driving technology. He didn't specify which competitors Uber had targeted but said some of the stolen information involved drivers.

US District Judge William Alsup slammed Uber for failing to disclose the evidence, the Wall Street Journal reports - a 37-page letter from a former Uber employee detailing efforts Uber allegedly took to steal information from competitors and cover up its tracks.

To protect itself against potential trouble, Uber frequently communicated on a service called Wickr that automatically erases messages, according to Jacobs.

Jacobs also testified in person on Tuesday, where he said that the surveillance team at Uber used "anonymous servers" separate Uber's main servers, according to Bloomberg.

Uber had a unit dedicated to stealing trade secrets, according to ex-staffer Richard Jacobs, who testified in court Tuesday.

Alsup received the letter from the US Attorney's office, which is conducting a criminal investigation into Uber. He insisted he didn't know anything about Uber's espionage team trying to steal anything in the USA, explaining he missed the purported mistake because he spent only about 20 minutes reviewing it while he was on vacation with his wife.

Jacobs said he learned of this activity through discussions at Uber with his manager and other colleagues.

The hearing on Tuesday gave Alsup reason to doubt Uber's testimony.

Under questioning, Jacobs trod a very careful line where he claimed to be assisting the US Department of Justice in discovering whether any of the allegations contained within his letter were actually true. He also added that, "I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case".

The delay gives Waymo ― a self-driving vehicle business owned by Google's parent company ― time to investigate numerous bombshell allegations revealed in court Tuesday and (presumably) bolster its case.

They also asked about training that the unit had been given to evade discovery and investigation including hiding communications, copying lawyers on letters in order to gain legal privilege, encryption, and using email only as a "last resort". But the judge wasn't swayed. "None of the testimony (Tuesday) changes the merits of the case", Uber said. A new start date hasn't been set.

The case follows Waymo's February lawsuit against Uber, which claimed that a former Waymo exec Anthony Levendowski shared confidential files with Uber.

The latest bombshell to drop on Uber came as the company tried to complete a $10 billion sale of its privately held stock. But the firm's investigators couldn't determine whether the files made it to Uber.

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