Clash of the Titans: Google v Uber (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)
23 June 2017
In February, Waymo, part of Google’s parent company, sued Uber for theft of confidential information. Allegedly, a former employee of Waymo, who had been a key part of Google’s driverless car initiative, took 14,000 files and then shortly jumped ship to start up his own autonomous vehicle company. A short time later, Uber acquired the start-up for $680 million.
The dispute concerns lidar technology, a laser rader sensor system which is crucial in enabling autonomous vehicles to understand their surroundings. Waymo claim they were tipped off to the theft of their information when they were inadvertedly copied into an email by one of their suppliers in relation to an Uber lidar circuit board.
So far Waymo has scored wins in court in preventing the case going to arbitration and in securing an injunction to prevent the employee in question working on the lidar technology. However, Uber won the right to keep their driverless car programme alive….for now.
The outcome of this case is significant because it will affect competition in the autonomous vehicle market at a crucial stage of its development. It also highlights the inherent issues in the tech sector for employers – it’s common for individuals to move around different companies. There is a tension between encouraging innovation, hiring the best people and protecting the organisations trade secrets.
This is not the first trade secrets litigation that has started after the wrong person was cc’d on an email. Organisations should ensure that staff are reminded about email security (including accidental disclosures) on a regular basis. Particularly in view of the Trade Secrets directive, confidential material should be properly labelled. Organisations can also implement computer monitoring policies or security systems that flag when significant downloads of material are made.
Playing with fire: user-generated content on Twitter (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)23 June 2017
The strange world of Twitter, where brands engage with their customers at their peril. The main lesson learned from the recent #WalkersWave Twitter promotion is one that brands have heard before: the British public love nothing more than a piss-take.
Public goes nutellay crazy for AI design (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)23 June 2017
Nutella hit the headlines in February this year after using an algorithm to produce millions of unique labels in Italy. The jars flew off the shelves with customers keen to get their hands on a one-of-a kind jar. Each label design was completely unique with only the Nutella logo remaining the same.
Get me a #covfefe (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)23 June 2017
In case you missed it, the 45th President of the United States recently took his habit of late night tweeting to a new low. Presumably meaning to rail against the ‘mainstream media’ coverage, Trump instead complained of “negative press covfefe” and trailed off mid-sentence. Cue ridicule and the hashtag #covfefe trending on Twitter.
All hands on deck as creative industries and search engines tackle online piracy (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)23 June 2017
The UK Government, through the UKIPO, Ofcom and DMCS, has helped broker an agreement between Google, Bing, the BPI and Motion Picture Association over a new voluntary code of practice.
To UPC or not UPC – implementation of Unified Patent Court delayed (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)23 June 2017
The Unified Patent Court (UPC) is intended to provide a regional forum resolve patent disputes. At the moment, parties have to litigate patent disputes on a country by country basis across Europe, which is time-consuming, expensive and can lead to differing decisions in some countries. UPC decisions will have effect in all 25 states participating in the UPC, providing a single forum to resolve these disputes.
Champagne supernova: Cristal brand owner sues cava producer (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)23 June 2017
Do you know your Champagne from your Cava? Quite possibly, but a High Court judge held in late 2015 that a Spanish cava producer trading under the brand name, “Cristalino” had used a confusingly similar sign to that of the famous tipple preferred by rappers and the like, “Cristal”.
Give me a break…KitKat latest developments (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 5)23 June 2017
Last month the Court of Appeal gave us the latest decision in the long running battle between Nestle and Cadbury. Interestingly, whilst agreeing that the well-known four- fingered chocolate snack should not be registered as a 3D trade mark, all three Lord Justices chose to give their own judgment. And for Nestle, this one might just take the biscuit.