If you are intrigued by technology ‘whodunits’ there is an epic drama unfolding over alleged misappropriation of self-driving vehicle technology. Waymo, the self-driving vehicle unit of Google parent Alphabet, has filed a legal complaint against Uber Technologies for trade secret misappropriation This action could have a potentially crippling impact on Uber’s future business in self-driving cars, in the form of permanent injunctive relief.
It would seem that Uber is fielding a technology solution strikingly similar to that developed by Waymo. Although I am not an expert in intellectual property law, I do have some background in technology IP ‘conflicts’. Based on that, determining whether these two technologies were in fact developed separately, and are similar only coincidentally should be a fairly straightforward process; presumably, those details will be part of the discovery process in the legal action.
The design of a complex, multi-domain systems consisting of hardware, software, sensors, etc. takes considerable time, and involves hundreds of engineers from multiple disciplines. Further, there would be thousands of engineering artifacts, from concept, design, development, and manufacture. The existence (or absence) of proof of these efforts, and existence of the derivative artifacts, should present compelling evidence of what was invented and by whom.
In any case, this will be a fascinating story as it unfolds.
For more details, see Daniel Compton’s blog. He presents a great assessment and timeline about the run-up to the legal filing.