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Business

October 13, 2017

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Waymo demanded $1bln in settlement talks with Uber

Waymo demanded $1bln in settlement talks with Uber

SAN FRANCISCO: Alphabet Inc´s Waymo sought at least $1 billion in damages and a public apology from Uber Technologies Inc as conditions for settling its high-profile trade secret lawsuit against the ride-services company, sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters.

The Waymo self-driving car unit also asked that an independent monitor be appointed to ensure Uber does not use Waymo technology in the future, the sources said. Uber rejected those terms as non-starters, said the sources, who were not authorized to publicly discuss settlement talks.

The precise dollar amount requested by Waymo and the exact time the offer was made could not be learned. Waymo´s tough negotiating stance, which has not been previously reported, reflects the company´s confidence in its legal position after months of pretrial victories in a case which may help to determine who emerges in the forefront of the fast-growing field of self-driving cars.

The aggressive settlement demands also suggest that Waymo is not in a hurry to resolve the lawsuit, in part because of its value as a distraction for Uber leadership, said Elizabeth Rowe, a trade secret expert at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Waymo recently persuaded a San Francisco federal judge to delay a trial to decide the dispute from October to early December, citing the need to investigate evidence Uber had not disclosed earlier. No further settlement talks are currently scheduled, the sources said.

The judge overseeing the case mandated that the companies enter mediation with a court-appointed magistrate. Amy Candido, a Waymo attorney, declined to comment on any settlement talks, but said the company´s reasons for suing Uber are "pretty clear."

"Waymo had one goal: to stop Uber from using its trade secrets," she said. "That remains its goal." An Uber spokesperson declined to comment. Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that former engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving to set up a self-driving truck company, called Otto, which Uber acquired soon after.

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