A US Federal judge has ordered ride-sharing company Uber to promptly return stolen confidential files to Google's Waymo self-driving car division. However, the judge has allowed Uber to continue work on its self-driving car.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco unsealed on Monday is a bitter blow to Uber which is competing with Waymo to dominate the fast-growing world of self-driving cars.
According to Reuters, Judge Alsup also referred the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation of possible trade secret theft.
The ruling also barred the former head of Uber's self-driving car division Anthony Levandowski away from work involving Lidar. Waymo in its filing with the court stated that Lewandowski had stolen confidential data regarding LIDAR tech before he left the company to form Otto, a self-driving truck company, in January 2016.
Otto was purchased by Uber for $680 million (Rs 43.538 billion) in August last year, and Lewandowski started work as the head of Uber's self-driving division.
In his ruling, Judge Alsup stated, "The bottom line is the evidence indicates that Uber hired Levandowski even though it knew or should have known that he possessed over 14,000 confidential Waymo files likely containing Waymo's intellectual property,"
Waymo meanwhile has inked a deal with Lyft, Uber's biggest rival in the United States to launch self-driving pilots allowing self-driving technology to reach more people.