Another day, another cache of toxic waste from the Kalanick era of Uber.
Now, they have pissed off the judge in the trade secret theft lawsuit against them because they have been discovered to be lying in court:
A letter that detailed a secretive effort at Uber to gather intelligence on competitors and cover its tracks has the ride-hailing company on the defensive in a legal fight that has gripped Silicon Valley since February.
On Tuesday, the discovery of the letter caused a federal judge to delay a trade secrets trial — a day before jury selection was set to begin — between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco was alerted to the letter’s existence by the United States attorney’s office in Northern California. The judge accused Uber’s lawyers of withholding evidence, forcing him to delay the trial until Waymo’s lawyers could gather more information.
“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,” Judge Alsup said. “If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial.”
Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that a former engineer, Anthony Levandowski, conspired with Uber to steal trade secrets from Waymo. On Tuesday, Judge Alsup repeatedly rebuked Uber’s lawyers for not sharing the document with the court. “You should have come clean with this long ago,” he said.
The letter was written in May or June by a lawyer for Richard Jacobs, a former Uber employee, to Angela Padilla, deputy general counsel at Uber. Uber hired Mr. Jacobs in March 2016 as its manager of global intelligence and fired him in April of this year, Mr. Jacobs testified in court on Tuesday. He is now a paid security consultant for Uber, after receiving a $4.5 million settlement following his dismissal.
In discussions with other Uber employees, Mr. Jacobs testified, he learned of an internal organization that gathered trade secrets, code and other information about its competitors. It was called the “marketplace analytics team,” according to the letter, which had been redacted by Uber. The group frequented the code-sharing site GitHub, searching for private material that may have been accidentally revealed by competitors.
This Uber team also led efforts “to evade, impede, obstruct, influence several ongoing lawsuits against Uber,” according to the letter. The team also tried to find out what other companies were doing. And in 2016, Uber hired a man named Ed Russo to help recruit employees of competitors to steal trade secrets, according to the letter.
This group relied on “anonymous” servers separate from the rest of the Uber network, and some employees were expected to rely on devices that encrypted or automatically deleted messages after a certain amount of time, Mr. Jacobs testified. Email was a last resort.
“The evidence brought to light over the weekend by the U.S. attorney’s office and revealed, in part, today in court is significant and troubling,” said Johnny Luu, a Waymo spokesman. “The continuance we were granted gives us the opportunity to fully investigate this new, highly relevant information.”
This is the first time I have ever heard of prosecutors doing this in a related civil trial.
Also, the judge has probably cause to instruct the jury that Uber have lied to the court, and that the absence of evidence can be assumed to be interpreted in the most negative way.
This is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.