Judge delays Uber-Waymo trial, slams Uber for withholding evidence

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The 37-page letter, obtained by the Justice Department during an investigation into possible corporate espionage by Uber and sent to Alsup on November 22, revealed Uber had set up a secret intelligence team to steal trade secrets from Waymo and unnamed competitors overseas.

Jacobs took the stand to testify about the letter's statement that Uber's Marketplace Analytics "exists expressly for the objective of acquiring trade secrets, code-based & competitive intelligence", as Waymo lawyer Charles Verhoeven said, quoting from the letter.

Jacobs' allegations of a trade-secret stealing unit appear to have been sent in a letter from his attorney to Uber - a letter that Uber should have provided the court and Waymo as part of discovery but failed to do so - a situation that could also implicate Uber's attorneys.

Waymo said that Uber intentionally hid key evidence in the case, and it needed more time to prepare for trial now that the evidence has come to light.

He also claimed that the team used a secretive messaging system on an anonymous server that would delete texts nearly immediately in order "to ensure we didn't create a paper trail that came back to haunt the company in any potential civil or criminal litigation".

Uber is accused of using cloak-and-dagger tactics.

Last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup received a letter from the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California investigating allegations into anticompetitive behavior at the ride-hailing company, according to court filings.

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The letter was penned by an attorney for former Uber security team member Ric Jacobs, who left the company in April, as the Journal notes.

"Uber has been waiting for its day in court for quite some time now", Uber said in a statement to Bloomberg.

"It is possible that he has been bought off by Uber", Alsup said of Jacobs at one point during Tuesday's drama.

"There was legal training around the use of attorney-client privilege markings on written materials and the implementation of encrypted and ephemeral communications meant to destroy communications that might be considered sensitive", Jacobs said.

"It turns out the server is only for the dummies and the real stuff goes on the shadow system", Alsup said Tuesday during what was supposed to be a hearing to hammer out details ahead of next week's trial. He didn't immediately set a new trial date.

The case follows Waymo's February lawsuit against Uber, which claimed that a former Waymo exec Anthony Levendowski shared confidential files with Uber. The Google spinoff claims Levandowski downloaded 14,000 files of trade secrets before resigning in January 2016 to start Ottomotto, and that Uber quickly struck a deal to buy the company and hire him to build autonomous vehicles using Waymo's technology.

However, he did say that Uber acquired private code from an overseas competitor, and that Uber tried to identify employees at competitive companies who might leak to them.