“As discussed in the first part of this two-part article, the ongoing litigation over Uber Technologies Inc.’s alleged theft of trade secrets from Waymo LLC, Google Inc.’s self-driving car subsidiary, has highlighted the potential criminal consequences of civil trade secrets cases. In the Uber case, U.S. District Judge William Alsup took the unusual step of referring the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for criminal investigation. Uber has since fired Anthony Levandowski, the former Waymo engineer and leader of Uber’s self-driving car project who is at the center of the litigation. Levandowski had refused to provide testimony or turn over documents in the civil case, citing his Fifth Amendment rights, leading Judge Alsup to threaten civil sanctions against Uber. While the case may not be typical, it provides important lessons about the criminal issues that lawyers should understand when litigating civil trade secrets cases.
The first part of this article provided background on criminal trade secrets laws and discussed the factors that may lead a prosecutor to pursue criminal charges. This final installment discusses how a criminal investigation can affect a civil trade secrets case and provides an overview of critical issues counsel should consider before a civil trade secrets case goes criminal.”
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