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This article was published on May 30, 2017

Uber ousts former Google engineer at the center of Waymo dispute

Uber ousts former Google engineer at the center of Waymo dispute
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

If you’re looking for plot twists, the Uber and Waymo lawsuit is chock full of them. Today, the company unceremoniously parted ways with its Vice President of Technology, and former Google employee, Anthony Levandowski.

Levandowski came under fire after pleading the Fifth when asked to hand over evidence and testify on behalf of his new employer, Uber. Under advisement from his attorneys, Levandowski declined, citing the “potential for criminal action.” It’s not a smoking gun, but it certainly isn’t helping Uber in the court of public opinion.

And that, according to the company, is why it has decided to part ways. According to Angela Padilla, Uber’s associate general counsel:

Over the last few months Uber has provided significant evidence to the court to demonstrate that our self-driving technology has been built independently. Over that same period, Uber has urged Anthony to fully cooperate in helping the court get to the facts and ultimately helping to prove our case.

The move to axe Levandowski should surprise no one. Should the company be found guilty of stealing trade secrets from Google, Levandowski offers the low-hanging fruit needed to claim Uber’s ignorance in the matter. If found innocent, the willingness to cooperate in the investigation by firing uncooperative employees only aids in the company’s defense.

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