One of the most contentious legal battles over self-driving car technology between Uber and Waymo has finally come to an end. We previously wrote about the lawsuit brought by Waymo, alleging Uber stole vital proprietary information about its self-driving technology.

Uber settled with Waymo, giving Waymo a 0.34 percent equity share in Uber’s company which is valued at $72 billion, which equates to an estimated $245 million. Waymo originally asked for $1 billion prior to the lawsuit being filed but Uber quickly rejected that deal. In addition to the financial settlement, Uber also pledged that they would not use Waymo’s software or hardware on their vehicles. The presiding federal court judge in the case, William Aslup, declared the entire case to be “ancient history.”

In a statement Waymo said, “[w]e have reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo’s intellectual property now and into the future. We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology. 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.”

In the initial lawsuit, Waymo focused on Otto, a company touted to be a self-driving truck startup, acquired by Uber in 2016 for $680 million. The founders of Otto are ex-employees of Google, one of which is Anthony Levandowski. Waymo alleged six weeks prior to his resignation, Levandowski “downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board.” Waymo further alleged many of the employees who left Waymo for Otto also downloaded “Waymo trade secrets in the days and hours prior to their departure.” Levandowski’s employment has since been terminated with Uber as a result of the lawsuit and lack of cooperation with counsel.

At the beginning of the trial, Waymo appeared to have the upper hand but, by the time the trial was well under way that did not appear to be the case. There were over 120 trade secret claims originally presented and only eight were to be argued at trial. The patent claims would also not be argued, they were tossed out, and there were damming emails from Waymo employees discussing their apprehension for the future of the program. Levandowski was scheduled to take the stand where it was believed he would assert his Fifth Amendment right, thankfully for Uber, that did not happen.

Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, expressed “regret” for the long drawn out lawsuit and further stated Uber does “not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology.” Khosrowshahi does, however, hope the two companies can “look forward to the great race to build the future. We believe that race should be fair—and one whose ultimate winners are people, cities and our environment.”

At the end of the day this settlement may prove to be a good thing for everyone as the two companies are now more closely connected; Waymo now has a vested interest in the successful future of Uber.

Suiter Swantz IP is a full-service intellectual property law firm, based in Omaha, NE, serving all of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. If you have any intellectual property questions or need assistance with your patent, trademark, or copyright matters and would like to speak with one of our patent attorneys please contact us.