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Uber calls Waymo’s lawsuit alleging stolen self-driving tech ‘baseless’

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The Uber / Google wars heat up

Uber rejected the allegations that it stole Google’s self-driving car technology Friday, calling the lawsuit from the search giant’s autonomous vehicle spinoff “baseless” and vowing to “vigorously” defend itself in court.

Waymo filed the explosive lawsuit last night, claiming that Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer and current top executive at Uber, had stolen 14,000 confidential documents before leaving Google, which he then used to help build Uber’s autonomous vehicles. At the time, Uber appeared caught off guard by the lawsuit, with a spokesperson vowing to review the allegations before commenting further.

Today, the company was more prepared to take a forceful position. In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said, “We are incredibly proud of the progress that our team has made. We have reviewed Waymo's claims and determined them to be a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor and we look forward to vigorously defending against them in court. In the meantime, we will continue our hard work to bring self-driving benefits to the world.” (The statement was first reported by Business Insider.)

Waymo claims that Levandowski’s alleged actions were part of a “concerted plan to steal Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property.” The Alphabet-owned company is asking the court to block Uber and its self-driving truck subsidiary Otto from using its technology, and for the return of the allegedly stolen materials.

If neither side settles, the lawsuit could drag on for years. If a jury agrees with Waymo’s allegations, Uber would take a major hit to its ability to make hires and maintain trust from its investors. Some of the company’s investors are already taking Uber to task for the harassment scandal that exploded earlier this week. How this lawsuit will effect its operations, especially the self-driving pilots currently underway in Pittsburgh and Arizona, could hinge on whether a judge issues an injunction.