On Friday, March 10th, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) autonomous vehicle development firm Waymo took additional actions in a patent infringement and trade secret violation suit targeting ride hailing service Uber. The amended complaint filed by Waymo reportedly includes an additional patent claim and the company also filed a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent Uber from practicing an object detection technology in its autonomous vehicle development. Waymo’s lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal.).
The amended complaint filed by Waymo against Uber asserts claims from four patents held by Waymo. The patents-in-suit include:
- U.S. Patent No. 8836922, titled Devices and Methods for a Rotating LIDAR Platform with a Shared Transmit/Receive Path. It claims a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) device with a lens mounted to a rotatable housing and configured to receive light focused along a transmit path.
- U.S. Patent No. 9285464, same title as ‘922 patent. It claims a similar LIDAR device where light is focused onto detectors to measure distances for creating a three-dimensional map of a scanning zone.
- U.S. Patent No. 9368936, titled Laser Diode Firing System. It claims an apparatus with a voltage source, an inductor, a diode, a transistor, a light emitting element and a capacitor that increases a voltage level and causes the light emitting element to emit a pulse of light.
- U.S. Patent No. 9086273, titled Microrod Compression of Laser Beam in Combination with Transmit Lens. It claims a LIDAR device with a laser diode that emits an uncollimated laser beam which reduces the complexity and cost of using such devices with an autonomous vehicle.
Waymo’s allegations stem from an email containing diagrams of a LIDAR board marketed by Uber which was inadvertently sent to Waymo. Similarities between this circuit board and Waymo’s own LIDAR devices led the company to allege that Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo manager who left the company to found the self-driving freight transport company Otto, downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files from Waymo’s design server, before resigning from Waymo. Levandowski publicly launched Otto last May and the company was acquired by Uber in August for a reported $680 million.
Waymo’s suit includes counts of infringement for each of the four patents asserted in the case. The suit also includes counts for violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and state claims for violations of the California Uniform Trade Secret Act. Waymo is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, damages for patent infringement including trebled damages for infringement of the ‘922, ‘464 and ‘273 patents and punitive damages among other forms of relief.