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A federal judge has ordered that Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo employee whose autonomous driving startup was acquired by Uber last year, stop working on the ride-hailing company's self-driving car technology.

Why it matters: Barring Levandowski from working on LiDAR technology — which helps cars "see" so they can drive themselves— might not render him entirely useless to Uber, but it certainly makes the $680 million it paid to acquire his startup now seem like too much money.

If Levandowski, his co-founders and their LiDAR technology were the main assets Uber acquired, then it doesn't have much access to them anymore after this ruling, lest it prevails in trial later this year.

The ruling, stemming from Waymo's request for a preliminary injunction to halt Uber's work on self-driving cars, was issued on Thursday evening, but was under seal until now. Levandowski had recently recused himself from working on the technology, but the ruling makes this requirement official.

There's more: Uber is also ordered to return the 14,000 files Levandowski downloaded prior to leaving Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit, to his former employer by May 31. Uber also has to provide a complete timeline of its discussions with him about LiDAR. Levandowski has allegedly made this difficult for Uber by asserting his Fifth Amendment right, something the judge says it could remedy by threatening to fire him if he doesn't turn over the files.

Go deeper

22 mins ago - World

Netanyahu and Israel reluctantly adjust to a post-Trump Washington

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides are very nervous about the transition to a new U.S. administration after a four-year honeymoon with Donald Trump. One Israeli official told me it felt like going through detox.

What he's saying: Netanyahu congratulated Biden minutes after he was sworn in, saying in a statement that he looked forward to working together to "continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. State of play: New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead.
  2. Politics: Biden set to immediately ramp up federal pandemic response with 10 executive actions — Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.
  4. Vaccine: Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

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