A federal judge has given its verdict in the Waymo-Uber lawsuit case, saying that Uber Technologies will have to promptly return the stolen files to Waymo, however, the ruling prevented Uber from shutting down their work on autonomous car program forever, which Waymo had demanded, reported Reuters.
The US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, wrote in his ruling that Uber know or should have known that the former Waymo employee that they were hiring had taken confidential files from his ex-employer, which contained trade secrets and some of that information were used to develop Uber's development.
Alsup also said Waymo "has shown compelling evidence that its former star engineer" Anthony Levandowski had downloaded the documents from Waymo's computers before leaving the company.
This decision of the court is considered to be a setback for Uber, which is a strong rival of Waymo in the field of autonomous car technology.
Uber has also been ordered to keep engineer Anthony Levandowski, the ex-Waymo employee, away from all the works on Lidar, the self-driving technology in question.
"The bottom line is the evidence indicates that Uber hired Levandowski even though it knew or should have known that he possessed over 14,000 confidential Waymo files likely containing Waymo's intellectual property," Alsup wrote.
Uber and its employees now have time until May 31 for returning Waymo's materials and till then they will not be able to use those materials for any further progress.
Levandowski, however, is not a defendant in the civil case and he also refused to testify in the case asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Uber is now also compelled to finish an investigation into the downloaded Waymo materials within the next month and hand over a comprehensive log of written and spoken conversations between Uber and Levandowski regarding Lidar technology, as per the court order.
"Competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads, not through unlawful actions," Waymo spokesman Johnny Luu said, welcoming the court decision.
However, Waymo's patent claims against Uber have been found meritless and the judge said that all of Waymo's 121 asserted trade secrets do not qualify as trade secrets.
"We are pleased with the court's ruling that Uber can continue building and utilizing all of its self-driving technology, including our innovation around LiDAR," Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler said.