Uber threatens to fire key exec in self-driving car dispute

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The letter further says that he should not invoke that right and instead should comply with the court's order to return more than 14,000 files that were taken illegally, notes the Financial Times. Late Thursday, Levandowski's attorneys filed a motion that asks the judge to tweak his ruling that Uber could can the engineer for leaning on the Fifth.

Waymo did not sue Levandowski, but took Uber to court accusing the company of conspiring with the engineer to steal trade secrets for self-driving vehicle designs.

The case, which pits two companies battling to dominate the fast-growing field of self-driving cars, hinges on files that Waymo alleges engineer Anthony Levandowski stole before leaving the company.

Yoo wrote the letter under a court order.

Earlier, Uber said it would appeal a judge's order rejecting its attempt to arbitrate Waymo's trade secret claims, according to a court filing. Uber, which denies wrongdoing, has testified that it scoured its computers but has been unable to locate any of the materials. He has extended those rights to his personal laptop, leading to Alsup's speculation in court that the stolen documents might be on that device.

"While we have respected your personal liberties, it is our view that the court's order requires us to make these demands of you", the letter read.

Levandowski's lawyers stated that he was ordered by the company to meet the terms of the order to return Waymo materials or deal with likely dismissal. As a condition of your employment at Uber, you must comply with all of the requirements set forth in this letter.

It's a major shift in Uber's tone with Levandowski, who has a close working relationship with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Also, the requirement that your lawyers cooperate with us and turn over information that may be in their possession may invade your attorney-client privilege.

"I would love to put Mr. Levandowski on the stand to explain to you what happened, because I think he has a good story to tell", Gonzalez said.

"This letter confirms that you are (and always have been) prohibited from consulting, copying, or otherwise using any downloaded materials for any reason or objective whatsoever, including, without limitation, any activities undertaken with respect to your employment at Uber", Woo wrote.

Waymo and Uber have been racing to develop self-driving cars and the verdict in this lawsuit could have a big say on which one of them can ideal the technology first.

According to a legal expert, an appeal is not likely to happen and will not postpone a trial scheduled for October that might tilt the odds in the fight to market autonomous cars that both Uber and Waymo deem will be worth billions of dollars a year.

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