Waymo, the autonomous car development company spun out of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., is claiming in court documents that a complicated set of technology transfers and corporate acquisitions helped Uber illegally acquire its trade secrets for driverless cars.
By James Haslim’s own account, he started working in 2012 for a startup called Tyto LiDAR after he was interviewed by Anthony Levandowski, the man later accused of illegally downloading thousands of files before he left Waymo. Although neither Levandowski nor Haslim are defendants, Waymo alleges that Haslim and Tyto served as vessels for Uber’s theft of trade secrets. Levandowski’s alleged involvement at Tyto overlapped with his time at Waymo.
Waymo says that after Levandowski left his job there in January 2016, he formed a company, Ottomotto, that months later acquired Tyto, where Haslim still worked. That was before Uber bought Ottomotto last August for $680 million in stock.
“Levandowski personally guided Mr. Haslim to develop Tyto technology that incorporated Waymo’s trade secrets,” Waymo said in a court filing late Friday. “Levandowski, through a number of shell entities designed to conceal his involvement, was using Tyto to misappropriate Waymo’s intellectual property so that it would be available to defendants after the acquisition.”