Ex-Uber self-driving head owes $179 million to Google in contract dispute

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The former head of Uber Technologies Inc’s self-driving technology unit must pay $179 million to Google to end a legal battle over his split from the Alphabet Inc unit, according to a court order on Wednesday.

Anthony Levandowski, who had been a key engineer in Google’s self-driving project, and colleague Lior Ron engaged in unfair competition and breached their legal obligations by starting a rival using Google’s driverless car technology and employees, an arbitration panel ruled in December.

Though Ron settled with Google for $9.7 million last month, Levandowski had disputed the arbitration ruling. On Wednesday, a San Francisco County court confirmed the arbitration panel’s decision and award.

Waymo said it would “continue to take the necessary steps to ensure our confidential information is protected.”

Uber declined to comment. Levandowski’s attorney Neel Chatterjee did not respond to a request for comment.

It was known that Levandowski could owe $127 million, but previously undisclosed interest and attorneys’ fees were later included.

The arbitration victory was the latest for Google and its self-driving tech spin-off Waymo in a multi-pronged legal battle with Uber.

Waymo confirmed that Uber had paid the $9.7 million owed by Ron, as Uber indemnifies workers under its employment agreements. But Uber had said in financial filings that it expects to challenge paying for Levandowski, who is fighting a federal indictment on charges of stealing trade secrets from Google.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Tom Brown and Richard Chang

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