Uber and Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet / Google that specializes in autonomous car technologies, reached an amicable agreement ending accusations of theft of patents made by the latter against the former.
Unexpectedly, the two companies announced Friday a compromise to stop a trial that has kept the tech industry on high alert since the beginning of the week. Silicon Valley and the auto industry had launched a race to put autonomous cars on the road before 2020 .
In a short document sent to a court in San Francisco, California, the two parties say they have reached a “confidential” agreement and each of them will pay its own legal fees and lawyers.
The terms of the compromise, which comes less than a week after the start of the trial, which saw Travis Kalanick, the founder and former boss of Uber, testify at the bar, were not disclosed.
But according to a source close to the case, Uber has proposed the equivalent of $ 244.8 million to Waymo in shares, or 0.34% of the total valuation of the company at $72 billion.
The chauffeur-driven car reservation service also expressed its “regrets” and pledged to use only its own technologies in the development of its autonomous car, seen as the grail of public transport of the future and likely to generate Billions of dollars in revenue.
Dara Khosrowshahi, the new CEO of Uber who took office at the end of summer 2017, rejected the idea that secrets were transferred from Waymo to Uber or that Uber used any information belonging to Waymo.
“We are taking steps with Waymo to ensure that our Lidar and software are our only work,” he said.
“My job as CEO of Uber is to set the blueprint for the company’s future: innovate and grow responsibly, while recognizing and correcting the mistakes of the past,” adds the new executive.
“In doing so, I want to express my regret for the actions that led me to write this letter,” he also added.
Waymo accused Uber of stealing key technologies for the development of autonomous vehicles.
One of Waymo’s former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, reportedly, according to Waymo, stole at the end of 2015 thousands of confidential documents before founding his own startup, Otto, later bought by Uber in the summer of 2016.
The Google subsidiary claims that the group and its boss had engineered everything and bought Otto knowing that Mr. Levandowski would have stolen technology secrets from Waymo.
Waymo claimed some $ 2 billion from Uber, which wants to establish itself as a leading player in the transformation of the auto industry.
“We believe this deal will protect Waymo’s intellectual property,” a spokeswoman said Friday. “We are committed to working with Uber to ensure that each company develops its own technologies, which means that no proprietary information belonging to Waymo should be included in Uber’s software,” she added.
At the center of the dispute between the two giants are the LIDAR systems, which are laser sensors that allow a vehicle to detect cars, pedestrians or other obstacles around it.
Going to trial, Waymo seemed to have had the advantage since a US judge last May ordered Anthony Levandowski, the former Waymo employee at the center of the case, to return to his former employer the confidential files that he would have taken away when leaving the company.