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Giant business litigation case between Waymo and Uber is settled

High-profile cases litigated in Oregon and other states are interesting to watch because, for one thing, they usually exhibit certain principles of business litigation that apply universally. A recent high-stakes business litigation case was settled between two giant foes over self-driving car technology. Uber and Waymo settled what had all the markings of a dramatic all-out battle just one week after they started their jury trial. 

Waymo is owned by Google, a company that has made a mark in pioneering research and development regarding self-operating cars. Waymo accused Uber of misappropriating its trade secrets regarding the self-driving technology. The settlement calls for Uber to pay Waymo $245 million in equity in the ride-hailing company. It appears from these terms that Uber essentially admitted liability and negotiated a settlement for fear of a worse fate at the hands of the jury.

The payment to Waymo comes to about 0.34 percent of Uber's equity. Uber's CEO issued an apology of how it handled acquiring self-driving technology in 2016 when it purchased Otto, a self-driving technology company started by a former Google engineering manager, Anthony Levandowski. Google accused Levandowski of taking gigabytes of files on self-driving technology when he left the company.

This is another spectacular episode in the wild, zig-zag history of Uber and its ousted CEO, Travis Kalanick. Whatever its intentions or motives in its entry into self-driving car technology, the result is that Google now owns some equity in Uber, and from Uber's statements, it intends to tread more lightly into the field of self-driving technology. Whenever companies litigate over technology, patents, trade secrets and other intellectual property, the stakes can be high and the resulting verdicts or settlements can be huge. Business litigation over these kinds of issues is common in the federal and state courts in Oregon.

Source:, "Uber and Waymo have reached a $245 million settlement in their massive legal fight over self-driving-car technology (GOOG, GOOGL)", Kif Leswing, Feb. 9, 2018

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