Arbitrators adjudicating Google’s claims that two former employees launched a startup with stolen self-driving car trade secrets should be able to look at a due diligence report Uber commissioned before buying the startup, Google told a California appeals panel Wednesday, arguing the report was publicly available and not privileged material.
The oral arguments before the First Appellate District stem from allegations Anthony Levandowski, a former star engineer at Waymo LLC, and Lior Ron, an ex-Google Inc. special adviser, stole trade secrets from those Alphabet Inc. subsidiaries in 2016, then used them to create their autonomous vehicle company, OttoMotto LLC. Before Uber acquired Otto for $680 million, it commissioned Stroz Friedberg LLC to conduct a due diligence investigation into the startup and its founders.
Though that report is now publicly available thanks to related litigation between Waymo and Uber in California federal court, it cannot be considered by the arbitrators reviewing Google’s trade secrets claims against Ron and Levandowski.
Google attorney Dan Jackson of Keker Van Nest & Peters LLP told the panel Wednesday that Uber had appealed an arbitrator’s decision to allow the due diligence report, and California Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn found it couldn’t be considered, because it was subject to attorney-client privilege.
“The arbitrators here, in deference to the superior court, are not considering these documents. That’s the position we’re in,” Jackson told the appellate panel. “The federal court ruled the other way. I submit nothing should prevent the arbitrators from considering a public document.”
Read the full report here.