Well, this could be as worse as it can get. Waymo’s $1.86 billion legal battle against Uber got a new twist last week after the judge in the case released a damning letter based on the account of a former Uber employee. The letter alleges that a special division within Uber was responsible for acts of corporate espionage, the theft of trade secrets, the bribery of foreign officials and various means of unlawful surveillance.
These are just some of the allegations laid out in a 37-page letter written by a lawyer for the former Uber security analyst, Richard Jacobs, on May 5, 2017.
The judge, William Alsup only recently found out about the letter, after a US attorney investigating Uber for a potential federal case forwarded it to him. The document caused the judge to delay jury selection and the trial until the new year so that the plaintiffs could review the new evidence.
The letter, available in full to the public for the first time on Friday, contains allegations that could dramatically affect the outcome of Waymo’s case against Uber, and completely shatter the San Francisco-based company’s already frail reputation after a year of controversies and scandals.
The 37-page letter details the actions of the SSG (Strategic Services Group) and the Marketplace Analytics (MA) group which it claims “exists expressly for the purpose of acquiring trade secrets, codebase, and competitive intelligence… from major ride-sharing competitors globally.” Crucially, it includes a claim that collections of stolen trade secret data were delivered directly to former CEO Travis Kalanick, though it’s unclear if that information was related to Waymo.
“While we haven’t substantiated all the claims in this letter — and, importantly, any related to Waymo — our new leadership has made clear that going forward we will compete honestly and fairly, on the strength of our ideas and technology,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Kalanick declined to comment. The trial has been delayed until February 2018 to give the Waymo legal team more time to investigate claims from Jacobs.