Waymo and Uber have reached an agreement in their ongoing legal fight—Waymo will drop the majority of its patent infringement claims and Uber will promise not to resume development of its defunct, allegedly infringing lidar device, Spider.
The patent claims have been a bit of a distraction in Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber, which also accuses the ride-hailing company of stealing trade secrets. As Gizmodo reported in May, Waymo already dropped several of its patent claims after an expert witness it hired reversed his own testimony, saying another one of Uber’s devices, Fuji, wasn’t infringing as he originally believed.
Both companies are claiming today’s agreement as a win. Uber, of course, is excited to see any of the myriad claims about its infringement and theft go away, and the company says Waymo’s disappearing patent claims reveal a weak case. “Waymo’s retreat on three of their four patent claims is yet another sign that they have overpromised and can’t deliver,” an Uber spokesperson said. “They now admit that Uber’s LiDAR design is actually very different than theirs.”
Waymo, meanwhile, is celebrating the fact that Uber has agreed to abandon Spider for good (if Uber resumes development of the older device, Waymo can revive its patent claims).
“We found after fighting for discovery a device created by Anthony Levandowski at Uber that infringed Waymo patents. Uber has assured the court in statements made under penalty of perjury that it no longer uses and will not use that device, so we have narrowed the issues for trial by dismissing the patent claims as to that device, with the right to re-file suit if needed. We continue to pursue a patent claim against Uber’s current generation device and our trade secret claims,” a Waymo spokesperson said.
But the bottom line is that dropping these claims is part of the natural process this messy lawsuit needs to go through before it goes to trial in October. In addition to its patent infringement claims, Waymo started this suit with more than 100 trade secrets it said Uber stole. That list has narrowed to over 70 so far, and the judge presiding over the case has instructed Waymo to cut it down to 10. You’ll see a lot more claims disappear between now and October, and that doesn’t mean either side is “winning”—it just means no jury can be expected to sit through all of this.