SAN FRANCISCO — A battle between two technology titans that could impact the future of self-driving automobiles may be delayed after new evidence surfaced in a court filing on Monday.
Waymo, the autonomous vehicle unit spun out of Google, claims Anthony Levandowski, a former Google self-driving vehicle engineer, conspired with Uber to steal top trade secrets from his former employer before leaving and eventually joining Uber.
But with the trial set to begin in only a few days, Waymo asked William Alsup, a judge in the United States District Court in San Francisco, on Monday for a delay, citing the introduction of new information.
The evidence refers to what Waymo called the “Jacobs letter,” a reference to a letter sent by Richard Jacobs, a former Uber employee, to Angela Padilla, deputy general counsel at Uber, according to court documents. The filing, which is heavily redacted and missing crucial information about the contents of the letter, includes a request from Waymo to delay the start of the trial until after the company has had a chance to conduct more depositions of top witnesses.
“This evidence was never disclosed by Uber despite discovery requests and court orders,” Johnny Luu, a spokesman for Waymo, said in a statement. “We are eager to start trial, but believe it should be a full airing of the evidence, so we have asked the court for additional time to fully investigate this new information.”
The request is the latest salvo in the fight between the two companies, which have shared a tangled and occasionally friendly history over the last five years. GV, the venture capital arm of Waymo’s parent company, Alphabet, invested hundreds of millions in Uber during its fledgling days as a ride-hailing start-up. Uber also shared information and strategy with David Drummond, a top Alphabet executive, who sat on Uber’s board for years after the investment.