back to article We want Waymo money from you! Uber sued for 'stealing self-driving car' blueprints from Alphabet

Alphabet's self-driving car outfit and Google stablemate Waymo is suing Uber, alleging theft of trade secrets and patent infringement. Waymo claims one of its former executives who now works at Uber stole more than 14,000 confidential documents related to LiDAR mapping and navigation systems for use in autonomous vehicles – …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    In order to use CC, your email client should insist that two keys are turned simultaneously in locks that are set 8' apart, in the style of a nuclear missile launch system.

    The most insane thing about this story is that Waymo claims it was alerted to Otto and Uber’s alleged treachery by a mistakenly CC’d email. “Waymo was recently – and apparently inadvertently – copied on an email from one of its LiDAR component vendors. The email attached machine drawings of what purports to be an Uber LiDAR circuit board,” the complaint reads. “This circuit board bears a striking resemblance to Waymo’s own highly confidential and proprietary design and reflects Waymo trade secrets.”


    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Paris Hilton

      So two companies developing the same sort of thing and who get their components from the same place are surprised when the components are remarkably similar? I know it says 'own design' but that can depend on whether it was in-house or subcontracted.

      Also, I was susprised to see 'working for Uber' as used in the article is not in fact a euphemism in the same style of an actor 'resting' or a Hollywood waitress 'avoiding boredeom between roles' etc...

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Actually I work in a similar field, and believe me no two complex electrical designs done by two different engineers ever look remotely similar! Even within the same Company.

        So it's pretty safe to say that if you come across an electrical circuit design that looks very similar to your own design, then someone else has at least seen your design and chosen to use it as the basis for their own.

        1. Doctor_Wibble

          Fair point* and I think - now that I've at least glanced at the complaint and read more of the background info, especially the 'not working alone' details - that there is a bit more to this than trade secrets and patents and maybe not as simple as plain old greed.


          * though I think a caveat on meanings of 'similar' and levels of abstraction and degrees of arguability depending on who was looking, and at what, and in what way, the foot bone will always be connected to the leg bone etc...

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: euphemisms

        Actually, I'm a waiter. I'm just going to auditions and take the odd acting job until I find the right restaurant for me.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: euphemisms

          >Actually, I'm a waiter.

          Manuel !

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...two keys are turned simultaneously..."

      Somebody should start selling on eBay a Two-Key Turning Device. A gadget to allow one person to turn two keys, keys that are widely separated, simultaneously. A folding aluminium contraption with the required clamps, levers and pivots.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...two keys are turned simultaneously..."

        Good, good.

        My patent for 4 keys 2 blokes will finally make some money.

        I need the money after my 1 key 2 blokes setup was a failure.

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    So if all these secrets are so bad-ass, why doesn't Google have anything to show in the self-driving vehicle department? Why does Otto have a fully autonomous semi already and Google doesn't?

    All I've ever seen from Google are stock PR photos of that one vaguely VW Beetle shaped thing sitting in a parking lot.

    1. ratfox

      If that's all you've ever seen from Google, you must have made a serious effort to look elsewhere...?

      1. DropBear

        Actually, without any effort whatsoever, that's _precisely_ all I've ever seen from Google too. Cute beetle pics in a parking lot and vague news that "Google's cars" - whether said beetles or something else, no idea - have driven autonomously eleventy billion parsecs so far, with merely an occasional ding. Well, at least here, on El Reg. I don't exactly seek out this sort of news elsewhere, that's what I read El Reg for - and past a bunch of snarky sniping, that's all I remember them covering. Which is not to say Google might not have some sort of fully functional Schumi-in-the-box driving donuts by now, but all I remember having ever seen is a parked beetle indeed.

        1. ratfox

          Oh I see. You only ever read The Register, and they rarely link to videos of moving cars. Let me help you find more information:

    2. MajorTom

      I thought that Uber's system, although in public trial, is way too early for prime time. Google may feel that a more polished system = better public acceptance.

    3. Ian Michael Gumby

      @Gene Cash

      If memory serves, the Uber demo was on a truck route that Uber had previously driven using a driver.

      So if you put in a really good GPS unit that is accurate to less than a meter, drive a road and map it out using the GPS and Lidar... its fairly easy to have the truck drive that same route again.

      There's still a very large gap in full autonomous vehicles and what we see demoing today.

      Notice that the locations of the trials are in certain cities and in certain regions of the country? ;-)

  3. Nah7979

    I heard about this lawsuit but I didn't know it was over a self motivated driving car. This is ridiculous and by far the most dumbest things no I've seen yet.

  4. Mage Silver badge


    1) Doesn't Google own part of Uber / Otto anyway?

    2) The patents have prior art and/or too general, they should not have been issued.

    I've no sympathy at all for Uber, I think they are exploitive. But this is weird.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Baffling

      It's really copyright violation, though, if the internals are a copy.

      There is no limit on that, as it's based on damages.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Baffling

      1. Google owns a small percentage of Uber. It seems we are talking about 500 million. If Google wins 500 million why would they care if 20 million come out of your own pocket?

      2. Nobody is talking about patents except you. Patents usually have prior art. "Patents are too general, they should not have been issued" is something that you pulled right out of your backside.

      This is about stealing trade secrets most of all.

  5. Banksy


    The picture for this story reminds me of The Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a truck driver. Can we have a picture of him sitting on the bonnet of a moving truck?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google vs Uber

    I get all confused as who to root for here as I hate both.

    The fun bit is that Uber is using Gmail :).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google vs Uber

      I get all confused as who to root for here as I hate both.

      But its fun to watch. Here we have the conflict between Uber's very literal interpretation of "the sharing economy" and Google's "don't do too much evil".

      Seems a big bit odd that Alphabet/Waymo didn't notice the inappropriate downloading of GBs of sensitive data at the time, and then only noticed after the event because of a fumbled "cc"? And the wording of this article suggests that the bloke still had his Waymo laptop after he left to a competitor. All very well wanting legal redress, but I'd have thought that they might try harder to control their own intellectual property.

      So on balance both companies deserve a savage kicking (although its looking as though Uber/Otto are the ones who'll take the heat).

  7. JeffyPoooh

    Self-Crashing Cars are more SW design than hardware design

    There would be little on the detailed schematic that would be Self-Crashing Car specific. The array of sensors and driver circuits on the block diagram would reveal its overall purpose, but it's all off-the-shelf computer array and interface hardware design.

    Six months to design the hardware. It'll be another ten years until the idiotic software stops running red lights and crashing into trucks. By then they'll realize that they'll need faster hardware.

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