Waymo has narrowed the claims in its lawsuit against Uber over self-driving auto technology. It is arguing that Uber, which acquired Levandowski's self-driving truck startup last summer, is benefitting from those trade secrets. "Waymo's retreat on three of their four patent claims is yet another sign that they have overpromised and can't deliver", said Chelsea Kohler, an Uber spokeswoman, in an emailed statement. The move to narrow the case by dropping some claims is not necessarily an indication that Waymo is losing footing - it just means that the court will hear a more streamlined set of each side's strongest arguments. Lidar, a kind of radar technology that uses lasers instead of radio waves, is the key component in self-driving cars that allows the vehicles to "see" the world around them.
While Alsup said Waymo's patent claims were not "worth the salt", the Judge has said its trade-secret case has legs. The "Fuji" design doesn't use a "common lens" design, as described in most of Waymo's patents.
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Uber had previously said that it was no longer using the LiDAR systems associated with those patents - something Waymo would now appear to agree with. "Not only have they uncovered zero evidence of any of the 14,000 files in question coming to Uber, they now admit that Uber's LiDAR design is actually very different than theirs".
In fact, as rumors began to surface that Google's founders planned to build a self-driving vehicle, emails show that former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was desperate to partner with the ad giant to avoid competition, reports Vanity Fair.
Alphabet agreed to drop the patent claims ahead of the trial because Uber had stopped using the disputed technology, however, the company said that it could reintroduce the claims if Uber began using them again. "We look forward to trial", the statement continued. Still, Alsup has been skeptical about Google's patent claims. The company said Waymo's lawyers have not found the stolen documents in Uber's possession, despite extensive discovery.