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AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Waymo, the self-driving car unit recently spun out of Alphabet, has filed a lawsuit against Uber for stealing trade secrets when it acquired a startup founded by former employees, according to a lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court on Thursday. Alphabet's investment arm, GV, is a long-time investor in Uber.

The details: According to the complaint, Waymo says that Anthony Levandowski and other employees secretly downloaded and copied confidential information about the company's LiDAR system and other technology before leaving to start their own startup focused on autonomous driving. The new startup, Otto, was subsequently acquired by Uber just a few months later in August for $680 million.

  • Waymo claims that Levandowski secretly downloaded 14,000 proprietary files from Waymo's servers about the company's LiDAR technology. He subsequently attempted to cover up the act.
  • Levandowski allegedly also downloaded presentations containing information about "the manufacture, assembly, calibration, and testing of Waymo's LiDAR sensors," according to the complaint.
  • Waymo also says that other employees, including the company's supply chain manager and a hardware engineer, downloaded proprietary files shortly before resigning and joining Otto.
  • Otto then contacted a high-vetted vendor Waymo had begun working with despite the confidentiality agreements between the two companies.
  • Waymo discovered that Otto was using its technology through an email sent by a vendor, and confirmed that Otto was using replicas of its technology via a public records request it made to the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development and Department of Motor Vehicles.

Important timing: According to Waymo's complaint, Levandowski allegedly met with Uber officials just days before resigning from Waymo in late January, and after he downloaded the proprietary files. Though Uber's role in Levandowski's actions is unclear, the sequence of event is notable

"We take the allegations made against Otto and Uber employees seriously and we will review this matter carefully," an Uber spokesperson told Axios.

Why it matters: Uber and Waymo (and several other companies) are in a race to build and deploy self-driving car technology and their heightened competition even prompted Alphabet's chief legal officer to resign from Uber's board last year. This lawsuit is also the latest controversy to arise around the Uber, which is currently investigating recent allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee.

The story has been updated with additional details.

Go deeper

Updated 58 mins ago - Sports

Experts predict major boom for North American sports stadiums

Rendering of the $375 million Moody Center on the UT-Austin campus. Photo courtesy of Moody Center

Stadium and arena construction in North America will total a relatively tame $5.8 billion this year, a 12% decrease from 2021.

The big picture: What the industry lacks in construction it expects to make up for in design, with experts predicting a sports venue boom over the next half-decade, SBJ reports.

Updated 59 mins ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

The latest: “I can’t comment on specific pieces of intelligence. But we’ve been warning about just this kind of tactic for weeks and we’ve spoken to that publicly," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Student debt getting in the way of millennial homeownership

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millennial homeownership is on the rise — but student loan debt is still keeping millions of members of America's largest generation from owning a home.

Why it matters: Buying a house remains the No. 1 way to build wealth in the U.S.