Uber and Waymo Settle Trade Secret Dispute

Contributed by Kristin A. Biedinger

On February 9, 2018, Uber and Waymo agreed to settle their closely watched trade secret dispute related to self-driving car technology.  As part of the settlement, Uber has agreed not to use any Waymo confidential information in connection with its hardware or software and to pay out a 0.34 percent equity stake.  Reports vary on the current value of this equity stake, but it is estimated to be worth about $245 million.

In its complaint, Waymo alleged that Uber acquired trade secrets from a former Google engineer and used those trade secrets in Uber’s self-driving car technology.  The case highlights the potential risks associated with recruiting key talent from competitors and the importance of ensuring no trade secrets or other confidential information of the competitor are used by the acquiring company.  Companies should have mechanisms in place to review any suspicious activities of employees before they leave for new opportunities and to assess any risks when onboarding key employees who have worked for competitors.

For additional information, contact Kristin Biedinger.