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Waymo-Uber judge displeased with confidentiality requests

As part of an on-going IP theft lawsuit from Alphabet's self-driving car unit against Uber, the parties had a private hearing before Judge William Alsup in United States District Court in San Francisco this week. Newly hired lawyers for Anthony Levandowski, the former Alphabet employee at the center of the lawsuit, told the judge that he would be exercising his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

Here are the main points the parties discussed with the court, according to a transcript obtained by Axios:

  • The judge warned lawyers for Uber and Levandowski that if they don't deny the allegations of stolen IP, there's a good chance he'll rule in favor of Alphabet's request for an injunction to halt Uber's self-driving car efforts.
  • Judge Alsup dismissed the idea that a list of vendors qualifies as a trade secret.
  • The judge warned the lawyers that he's not a fan of their attempts to redact significant portions of court filings and requests for private hearings.
  • Levandowski's attorneys want to prevent the naming of a third party that did due diligence on his company ahead of its sale to Uber, arguing it would infringe on his Fifth Amendment rights. Judge Alsup theorized that the third party likely has incriminating information that would prove Alphabet's claims, though Levandowski's attorney doesn't believe it's the case.
  • Uber's attorneys said they requested a private hearing to avoid headlines in the press about Levandowski's Fifth Amendment, something they're concerned would reflect badly on Uber even though it comes from Levandowski alone.
  • Judge Alsup wasn't happy that he learned of a prior attempt at arbitration through the news and not the lawyers. Uber's lawyers explained they were asked to keep all information about Levandowski's employment contract (and related arbitration) confidential by Alphabet's employment attorneys.
  • While Uber's attorneys warned that they ultimately can't force Levandowski to testify in the case, the judge countered that the company can order him to or else threaten to fire him if he doesn't.
  • The judge advised Alphabet's attorneys to request to have their experts inspect Uber's self-driving technology to see if it's similar to its own.
  • Levandowski's attorneys clarified that his decision to exercise his Fifth Amendment right may change as the case moves forward.
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Trump: Transgender people "disqualified" from the military

SecDef Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty Images

President Trump late Friday issued an order disqualifying most transgender people from serving in the military.

"[T]ransgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria -- individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery -- are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances."

Why it matters: Anything short of an inclusive policy for transgender troops will be viewed as a continuation of the ban Trump announced on Twitter in August.

Haley Britzky 8 hours ago
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Both Bush and Obama also requested line item veto power

Donald Trump.
Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday evening that to avoid having "this omnibus situation from ever happening again," he wants Congress to re-instate "a line-item veto."

Why it matters: This would allow him to veto specific parts of a bill without getting rid of the entire thing. Trump was deeply unhappy with the $1.3 trillion spending bill approved by Congress early Friday morning, but signed it anyway on Friday afternoon.