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Alphabet, Uber locked in legal battle over IP

A few weeks ago, we wrote a post about trade secret litigation and the Defend Trade Secrets Act, a relatively new law that grants companies more legal tools to address trade secret theft. Some people believe that as a result of the Defend Trade Secrets Act taking effect, this year will see a surge in trade secret litigation.

Well, Google and Uber seem to be getting the party started. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has many different businesses under its umbrella. One of them, Waymo, is a self-driving car company that has a piece of technology they call "LiDAR." The purpose of LiDAR is to use millions of lasers that project outwards from a car, sending the car's computer a digital picture of our three-dimensional world.

The car then uses this information to safely navigate our roads, highways and streets. LiDAR is obviously a very valuable system, so it's no wonder the Waymo is filing a lawsuit against Uber -- which is actively pursuing a self-driving fleet of vehicles -- after one of their former employees apparently made off with 9.7 gigabytes of data on LiDAR and gave it to Uber.

If the allegations are true, then this is a massive breach of a company's intellectual property. Trade secrets derive their value from their inherently secret nature. Few people are supposed to know about what makes a specific product or process function in the way that it does (if it's a trade secret).

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Uber using stolen Google technology for self-driving cars, lawsuit alleges," Michael Laris, Feb. 23, 2017

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