Uber was either a cheating competitor willing to break the law to win the race to develop self-driving cars, or the victim of an unproven conspiracy theory stitched together by its main rival, Waymo, jurors heard in opening statements of a trade secrets trial on Monday.
The first salvos were delivered to a 10-person jury in San Francisco federal court in a civil lawsuit that could help determine who emerges in the forefront of the autonomous car business nearly a year after Alphabet's self-driving car unit Waymo sued rival Uber.
The case hinges on whether ride-hailing firm Uber used apparent trade secrets to advance its autonomous vehicle program. Waymo's allegation is that its former engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files in December 2015 containing designs for autonomous vehicles before going to work for Uber and leading its self-driving car unit in 2016.
"Waymo wants you to believe that Anthony Levandowski got together with Uber as part of some grand conspiracy to cheat and take trade secrets," Uber attorney Bill Carmody said in his opening statement to the jury. "But like most conspiracy stories it just doesn't make sense when you get the whole story."