The story is simple: a valuable engineer leaves Alphabet, creates a company based on the experience and knowledge he gained from his former employer, and then sells it to Alphabet rival Uber. That is, in essence, how the Silicon Valley worked – and flourished – for decades.
The technology giant accuses the transportation start-up of having violated the permissive rules of loyalty of the technology center
So far, the region between San Francisco and San Jose allowed employees to change jobs and share discoveries freely. Perhaps there would be a lawsuit if the technology was unique and its potential immense, but the most common thing was that the litigation was resolved, abandoned or rejected as a waste of time.
Alphabet, especially, avoided the courts. He was caught in the patent wars of smartphones, but rarely sued for trade secrets or other intellectual property. In fact, he advocated weakening certain protections of this when using the intellectual property of others.
Uber’s case is different because it is Google’s own property rights what they are playing with. Autonomous car technology is not only valuable but potentially revolutionary for drivers and manufacturers. Waymo, a division of Alphabet, dedicated seven years and tens of millions of dollars to developing a particularly sophisticated version, so that a project leader, Anthony Levandowski, accused of stealing more than 14,000 design secret files, used them to open his Own company, Otto, in a matter of months. Uber bought Otto in August for about 645 million euros, and named Levandowski as head of autonomous driving technology.
Last week, Waymo sued Uber and Otto, alleging unfair competition and violation of patents and trade secrets. Uber denies the allegations, which he calls an “unfounded attempt to stop a competitor.”
Fighting a monster like Alphabet will be costly, whatever the outcome, especially for a company that loses money. And it would be difficult for the trial to come at a worse time: Uber is facing allegations of sexual harassment and the resulting negative customer reaction, as well as constant challenges from taxi monopolies and drivers who insist on being treated as employees. void.
The Alphabet case against Uber looks different. Unlike much of corporate America, Silicon Valley businesses – with slogans like Think Different and Do not Be Evil – have avoided making a habit of the devastating activity of litigation. This case marks a change, which if prolonged, would leave sharing culture in the past.