Both Uber and Waymo found themselves being scolded by a federal judge who called one side “greedy” and accused the other of repeatedly misleading the court.
During a tension-filled court hearing on Wednesday in San Francisco, Waymo asked the court to hold Uber and its lawyers in contempt for dragging their feet when it comes to disclosing information about documents in their possession.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who is presiding over the high-profile suit between the two companies, specifically called out Uber’s lawyer, Arturo Gonzalez of Morrison & Foerster, for misleading the court “time and time again.”
At one point, Alsup even threatened to have Gonzalez take the stand during the upcoming trial to explain why Uber has been slow to respond to request for documents, including the 14,000 files that were allegedly stolen from Google by an engineer who went on to lead Uber’s self-driving car efforts.
“You’ll be a good witness. You’ll be right there explaining to the jury and explaining this story,” Alsup told Uber’s lawyer, pointing to the stand next to him.
While there’s a chance Gonzalez could still take the stand during trial, Alsup seemed more inclined to let the jury hear about the many deadlines Uber’s legal team missed or dodged in the lead-up to the trial, which is scheduled to begin in October.
“I am concerned that Mr. Gonzalez failed to disclose that he had the documents and took a long time to come clean,” Alsup said. “I am inclined… to tell the jury exactly this scenario: that he was ordered to come clean, did not come clean, ordered to come clean again, and did not come clean — finally in June or July came clean.”
In a heated exchange, Gonzalez fired back at the judge for buying into a “completely false premise” and said there will never be a time when anyone proves that his firm or Uber ever concealed the 14,000 documents.
While much of Alsup’s scolding was directed at Uber, he wasn’t happy with Waymo either.
In a previous court order, the Google spin-off company had to narrow down its list of trade secret violations from over 100 to nine to be argued at trial. When Waymo asked to retain the right to argue the rest, Alsup said if it wanted the whole lot, he could postpone the case for a year, potentially to Waymo’s own detriment.
“You can’t have everything,” Alsup said. “You want 121? I’ll give you that. We can push this out another couple of years and they’ll have cars on the street because you’re being greedy.”
In the end, Waymo acquiesced and agreed to move forward with their limited selection. The case, in which Uber’s lawyers said could involve “potentially multi-billion dollar damages,” is scheduled to begin in early October. – Written by ,