In the high-profile and ongoing Waymo v. Uber trade secrets lawsuit, US District Judge William Alsup said that he had received a letter from San Francisco-based federal prosecutors. Acting US Attorney Alex Tse asked that the first letter not be made public, but Alsup unsealed both letters
The first letter was signed by two prosecutors, Matthew Parrella and Amie Rooney. Those attorneys are assigned to the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office in San Jose.
This might mean that the government is pursuing yet another angle of investigation into Uber, which does not bode well for the outfit's future.Uber and/or its current or former employees may be under investigation for possible crimes under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a longstanding anti-hacking law.
Uber is already reportedly facing inquiries into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act relating to its practices in a handful of Asian countries.
The November 22 letter refers to ex-Uber security official Richard Jacobs, who threatened to sue Uber after departing from the company in May 2017. That 37-page demand letter, which was filed by a Minnesota attorney on his behalf, has been described and quoted in court but has not yet been made public. In it, Jacobs said that he and his colleagues engaged in possibly criminal behavior.
"Mr. Jacobs further stated that Uber employees routinely used non-attributable electronic devices to store and transmit information that they wished to separate from Uber’s official systems. He surmised that any wrongfully obtained intellectual property could be stored on such devices, and that such action would prevent the intellectual property from being discovered in a review of Uber’s systems", the prosecutors wrote.
While on the stand during evidentiary hearings, Jacobs repudiated some of what was in his letter, calling some language "hyperbolic". During the three days of testimony, the court heard how Jacobs was paid $4.5 million by Uber to not file his lawsuit while his then lawyer, Clayton Halunen, received $3 million.
In a separate filing, Judge Alsup said that barring any extraordinary objections, the Jacobs letter will be made public later today.