Hands on Computer Analyzing Computer DataA computer forensics expert testified in the U.S. Northern District of California trade secret lawsuit filed by Waymo against Uber. These experts investigate different types of digital data found on computers or other electronic devices in order to locate and identify different forms of evidence. In the Waymo case, the computer forensics expert analyzed the theft of trade secrets. Waymo (previously named the Google self-driving car project) charged former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski with taking LIDAR laser sensor technology. The expert testified that Levandowski copied Google’s self-driving vehicle technology from his personal laptop to external devices before he left the company. He then formed a startup which was purchased by Uber.  The March 3, 2017 amended complaint charged UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC.; OTTOMOTTO LLC; and OTTO TRUCKING LLC, with 1. VIOLATION OF DEFEND TRADE SECRETS ACT, 2. VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA UNIFORM TRADE SECRET ACT, 3. PATENT INFRINGEMENT and 4. VIOLATION OF CAL. BUS & PROF. CODE SECTION 17200.

Waymo has uncovered evidence that Anthony Levandowski, a former manager in Waymo’s self-driving car project – now leading the same effort for Uber – downloaded more than 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary files shortly before his resignation. The 14,000 files included a wide range of highly confidential files, including Waymo’s LiDAR circuit board designs. Mr. Levandowski took extraordinary efforts to raid Waymo’s design server and then conceal his activities…

A number of Waymo employees subsequently also left to join Anthony Levandowski’s new business, downloading additional Waymo trade secrets in the days and hours prior to their departure. These secrets included confidential supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information, all of which reflected the results of Waymo’s months-long, resource-intensive research into suppliers for highly specialized LiDAR sensor components.

Waymo accepted a settlement offer from Uber that included stock valued at $245M as well as an agreement ensuring that the company’s technology will not be used in Uber’s self-driving vehicles. In what has been called the first big legal battle of the self-driving car era, the computer forensics expert’s analysis and testimony on computer system records was critical.