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Judge postpones Uber trade secret trial based on bombshell memo

Judge postpones Uber trade secret trial based on bombshell memo

Jacobs had drafted a letter with lawyers to Uber's in-house lawyer regarding the ethics of the above practices.

Jacobs testified that the surveillance team used "anonymous servers" separate from the "main part of Uber".

US District Judge William Alsup slammed Uber for failing to disclose the evidence, the Wall Street Journal reports - a 37-page letter from a former Uber employee detailing efforts Uber allegedly took to steal information from competitors and cover up its tracks.

The evidence in question is a letter from former Uber security analyst Ric Jacobs. The letter reportedly had several bombshell revelations, including methods that Uber instructed employees to evade investigations.

Jacobs is said to claimed that his unit was told not to "create a paper trail that could come back to haunt Uber" - although where and how Jacobs made that claim is unclear since all the documents are under seal and neither the judge nor Waymo lawyer referenced where the information had come from.

Waymo, the self-driving auto company spun out of Google's moonshot unit, has accused Uber of recruiting its former employees and stealing its trade secrets in order to advance its development of autonomous vehicles. Waymo said it learned of the new evidence last week after the U.S. Department of Justice shared it with Alsup.

After a very long pause, Jacobs denied he had.

It also brings Uber very close to both contempt of court and criminal conduct charges. Hackers stole the personal information of 57 million Uber users in October 2016, and Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to keep the theft secret.

"We're going to have to put the trial off", Alsup said. At the time he noted that "the court takes no position on whether a prosecution is or is not warranted", but the order was unusual and nearly certainly led to the letter from the US Attorney warning about the secret unit.

Uber employees researching rivals were given training with the objective to "impede, obstruct or influence any lawsuit against Uber", Jacobs said, including a communication strategy "to ensure we didn't create a paper trail that came back to haunt the company in any potential civil or criminal litigation".

That claim is now undermined in an explosive letter written by attorneys for Richard Jacobs, a former member of Uber's global intelligence team.

An already extraordinary trial has just got bigger.


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