Expert Case: Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al.

This was a patent and trade secret case concerning lidar (laser radar) technology for self-driving cars and trucks.  It was the biggest case I've worked on, with potential damages over $2 billion, and also one of the most fun.  I was the defence's expert on the patent side, and we beat Google--they dropped all their patent assertions.  (This was made a lot easier by the fact that Uber wasn't infringing, of course.)  The trade secret side of the case settled dramatically at the end of the first week of the trial during the cross-examination of Waymo's technical lead.  The settlement was for 0.34% of Uber's stock, which is currently valued at about $250M, i.e. about 10% of the damages being sought.  No cash changed hands.  No wrongdoing was admitted, and to my eye, there wasn't any; but that 10% lets everybody get back to work and avoids the jury possibly doing something random.

Waymo is a former business unit of Google, and now a sister company.  They were alleging that Anthony Levandowski, former head of their self-driving car effort (Google's Project Chauffeur) stole over 14,000 files containing their trade secrets when he founded his own companies Ottomotto and Otto Trucking, and brought them with him when he sold Ottomotto to Uber.  That's the part that had the tech world chewing popcorn and watching for the last year or so. 

I did a bit of work on the trade secret side, primarily in looking for prior art to show that at least some of the alleged secrets were well known in the art, but my main contribution was on the patent side, where I was able to demonstrate by simulation, detailed examination, and operational testing that the accused Uber system (code named Fuji) did not infringe the asserted claims, and by way of deposition and expert reports was able to refute Waymo's expert, who vigorously contended otherwise but had no adequate body of evidence.  Waymo recognized that they were going to lose the patent side at trial, and so dropped all their patent contentions in mid-September 2017.  It's great when the legal process gets the right answer.

Dates: July-September 2017

New Web Site

Thanks to the efforts of our newest member, Simon Hobbs, we have a new web site with a new look and lots of new content, with more to come.  We hope you enjoy it!

EXFO Inc. et al. v Viavi Solutions, Inc.

In this one I was engaged as a testifying expert for the plaintiff in an action for patent infringement in optical time-domain reflectometers (OTDRs) used for testing fibre-optic networks.    As so often happens, the defendant petitioned the Patent Office for an inter partes review of the patents-in-suit, which I also assisted with.    The most unusual feature of this one was the really ferocious protective order covering the defendants' source code--it had to be printed on blue paper, one hard copy only, no soft copy, and kept locked in a steel cabinet at all times when not actively in use.

I did an extensive review of the relevant parts of the source code to identify infringing features, and wrote a declaration in claim construction.  The case settled soon afterwards.

Neutral Referee in IP dispute between former joint development partners

In the spring of 2017, I was approached by lawyers from two technology companies working in civil avionics (instruments for airplanes).  I can't say who they were due to NDA restrictions, but the job was an unusual and interesting one.  The two companies had been joint development partners, but the relationship had soured and trust had now broken down completely.  Both were concerned that the other was misusing intellectual property disclosed during the joint venture, and they asked me to do do an audit to see whether this was in fact true.  The situation was made more complicated because one company was several hundred times as large as the other, and of course there was no court-ordered discovery and no one was under oath.

After interviewing engineers for both sides and visiting SmallCo's facility, I was able to report that SmallCo's development pattern was essentially unaltered following their interaction with BigCo, and that in fact there was no evidence that BigCo had actually transferred the IP they claimed to be most concerned about.  (BigCo, like many large corporations, has a policy of deleting email archives more than a year or so old.)

Voxpath RS, LLC v. Desay A&V Science and Technology Co. Ltd, et al.

Testifying defense expert representing Samsung in an action for patent infringement concerning optical storage, holographic optical elements, tracking servos, and signal integrity.