Uber filed a notice on Thursday stating that it will appeal the court ruling on May 11 that denied its request to move the conflict out of the public court into closed-door arbitration, according to Bloomberg. However, experts believe that the appeal will not go through and that the October trial will move forward without delay, which may dent Uber’s progress towards an autonomous car.
Why is Uber pushing for arbitration?
Uber has been in favor of arbitration since the start of the case because it will help keep the case out of the public spotlight and limit the scope of information sharing or discovery. Under arbitration, the involved parties select an intellectual-property expert — usually lawyers or retired judges — to settle the dispute. Arbitrators are required to keep the proceedings and the final result secret. However, the parties – unless they agree to keep quiet — can speak publicly about awards, notes Bloomberg.
Waymo, which is owned by Alphabet, has alleged that ex-Waymo worker Anthony Levandowski downloaded thousands of classified files before leaving the company to launch his own start-up Otto, which was later taken over by Uber for $680 million. Levandowski was demoted at Uber last month.
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Levandowski may lose his job
Uber also stated recently that it would fire Levandowski if he does not cooperate with the ongoing investigation. In a letter to Levandowski earlier this week, Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo wrote that he should comply with the “extremely extensive and onerous investigation” into the downloaded information. The investigation was opened on the order of a judge earlier this week.
Levandowski, however, has refused to testify in the case, asserting his right under the Fifth Amendment. The letter further says that he should not invoke that right and instead should comply with the court’s order to return more than 14,000 files that were taken illegally, notes the Financial Times.
“While we have respected your personal liberties, it is our view that the court’s order requires us to make these demands of you,” the letter read.
Yoo further stated that if Levandowski fails to comply with the requirements in the material manner, then Uber will take strict action, which could lead to termination. The letter was made public on Thursday during the court proceedings.
Levandowski’s lawyers, on the other hand, stated that when a court orders an employer to go to any extent to make the employee speak and give information, “the threat of termination is not the mere discretionary choice of a private employer.”
Expanding into the trucking business
Meanwhile, the ride-sharing company is expanding its business and has officially launched Uber Freight, a new network to help truck drivers find loads easily and get payments faster. Already there are start-ups that claim to offer similar solutions, but Uber is different from them in that it is well-financed and much bigger, notes Business Insider.
The plan, which has been in the pipeline for quite some time, builds on Uber’s acquisition of Otto in July. At the time of the acquisition, Otto’s focus was mainly on making self-driving kits for freight networks and equipment manufacturers to install in trucks.