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The battle over self-driving technology

Google is the “Goliath” amidst a sea of “Davids.” The Alphabet’s dominance as an internet services and products provider is practically without peer. Even the name of the company alone has become a synonym for internet searches, much like the name recognition Kleenex and Jell-O enjoys.

Those uncertain of that prestige should “google” it.

With a World Wide Web takeover that is largely complete, Google has moved on to greener pastures or, more accurately, grayer pavements. They are hoping that their past success will translate into domination in a new autonomous frontier: self-driving cars.

Uber has similar plans. The ride-sharing company is looking to blaze their own trail with autonomous vehicles traveling down the highways and byways of America. However, are those trails new?

The dispute between the two driverless technology titans-to-be started with an email. Waymo accidentally received the communication from one of Uber/Otto’s suppliers for Lidar equipment late in 2016. The designs revealed a “striking resemblance to Waymo's unique design that allows cars to “see” what’s ahead on the road

Concurrently, former Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski is facing accusations of downloading 14,000 data files on his ex-employer’s proprietary, self-driving technology to his laptop and transferring that information to an external storage device.

Weeks later, he left the company and launched Otto, a company focused on self-driving trucks. It would be a startup acquired by Uber six months later.

In their lawsuit, Google is accusing Uber of stealing trade secrets and intellectual property, along with infringing on its lucrative and patented Lidar technology.

Uber claims that Google is trying to keep them on the sidelines on “what potentially may be the most lucrative business in history.” They deny that any files made it to their servers and hiring Levandowski was not proof of misappropriation or infringement. They also allege that their systems are not even using Waymo technology.

Many market analysts believe that self-driving technology could be worth tens of billions of dollars. However, Uber attempting to leapfrog over their competitor supposedly with their technology can do significant harm to an industry in its infancy.

It could also make Google, of all things, a “David.”

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Robert Kaufman has been selected as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in ‘Commercial Litigation’ as will be published in the May issue of The American Lawyer & Corporate Counsel magazine.Alex Kaufman has been selected as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in ‘Commercial Litigation’ as will be published in the December issue of The American Lawyer & Corporate Counsel magazine.

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