United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS UNFAIR COMPETITION
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action asserting claims for trade secret misappropriation,
patent infringement, and unfair competition, defendants move
to dismiss the latter as superseded by California's
Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The motion is Granted.
centerpiece of this action is plaintiff Waymo LLC's
claims against defendants Uber Technologies, Inc., Ottomotto
LLC, and Otto Trucking LLC for misappropriation of trade
secrets under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act and the
California Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Additionally, Waymo has
asserted four claims for patent infringement and one claim
for violation of Section 17200 of California's Business
and Professions Code against all defendants. The following is
taken from the well-pled allegations of the amended complaint
(Dkt. No. 23).
cars represent a nascent and potentially trillion-dollar
industry (id. ¶ 1). To compete in that
industry, Waymo has invested heavily in building custom,
in-house Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology that
helps its self-driving cars "see" their
surroundings (id. ¶¶ 2, 31). Waymo has
patented some of its advances in LiDAR technology. It has
also accumulated "a vast amount of confidential and
proprietary intellectual property, " including
"details actually used in Waymo's LiDAR designs as
well as the lessons learned from Waymo's years of
research and development, " which "constitute trade
secrets" (id. ¶ 36).
2015, Anthony Levandowski, while employed by Waymo, used his
company credentials and resources to download "9.7 GBs
of sensitive, secret, and valuable internal Waymo
information, " including "confidential information
regarding Waymo's LiDAR systems and other
technology" (id. ¶¶ 41-48). Shortly
thereafter, in early 2016, Levandowski left Waymo to start
competing self-driving car ventures Ottomotto and Otto
Trucking (collectively, "Otto") (id.
¶¶ 48-50). In August 2016, Uber acquired Otto for
approximately $680 million dollars and put Levandowski in
charge of its self-driving car project (id.
foregoing events "caused Waymo grave concern regarding
the possible misuse of its intellectual property."
Accordingly, in summer of 2016, Waymo investigated the
circumstances of Levandowski's departure and discovered
his downloading of Waymo's "confidential
materials" (id. ¶ 57). "Then, in
December 2016, Waymo received evidence suggesting that Otto
and Uber were actually using Waymo's trade secrets and
patented LiDAR designs" when it received an email
between employees of a LiDAR-component vendor apparently
working on designs for defendants. The email appended a
machine drawing of a circuit board "reflect[ing]
Waymo's highly confidential proprietary LiDAR technology
and Waymo trade secrets [and] specifically designed to be
used in conjunction with many other Waymo trade secrets and
in the context of overall LiDAR systems covered by Waymo
patents" (id. ¶¶ 58-59).
"greatly heightened suspicion" that defendants were
using its "intellectual property, " Waymo made a
public records request to obtain Otto's submissions to
Nevada regulatory authorities in connection with Otto's
self-driving car project. The results from that request
confirmed to Waymo that defendants "[were] in fact using
a custom LiDAR system with the same characteristics as
Waymo's proprietary system" (id.
¶¶ 60-61). Waymo filed this lawsuit on February 23
and amended its complaint on March 10.
its injuries, Waymo further alleges that it "developed
its patented inventions and trade secrets at great expense,
and through years of painstaking research, experimentation,
and trial and error. If Defendants are not enjoined from
their infringement and misappropriation, they will cause
severe and irreparable harm to Waymo." Furthermore,
"[w]ith respect to Waymo's trade secrets, there is
also the threat that Waymo's confidential and proprietary
information will be disclosed by Defendants, which will
destroy the trade secret value of the technology"
(id. ¶¶ 62-64).
amended complaint sets forth the foregoing allegations in a
comprehensive section titled "Factual Allegations"
before enumerating Waymo's claims for relief, each of
which fully incorporates said allegations. Waymo's DTSA
and CUTS A claims both state, "Waymo owns and possesses
certain confidential, proprietary, and trade secret
information, as alleged above, " and describe examples
of the alleged trade secrets, including examples specifically
distinguishing Waymo's asserted trade secret rights from
its asserted patent rights (id. ¶¶ 67-68,
80-81). Both also describe security measures taken by Waymo
to keep its information secret and confidential (id.
¶¶ 70-74, 82). Waymo's CUTS A claim further
adds, "Waymo's technical information, designs, and
other 'know how' related to its LiDAR system
constitute trade secrets as defined by [CUTSA]"
(id. ¶ 80).
now move to dismiss Waymo's Section 17200 claim on the
basis that it is superseded by CUTSA (Dkt. No. 312).
Additional allegations from the amended complaint germane to
the instant motion are discussed below in the context of the
parties' arguments. This order follows full briefing and