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A majority of civil cases result in settlements, which usually occurs before they go to trial. But, there are times when a settlement can occur after the trial has started. That's what happened in the lawsuit between Uber and Waymo. Days after the jury trial began in federal court, the two companies announced that they had reached a $245 million settlement.
What Does the Settlement Mean?
Waymo was originally seeking much more than that -- $1.9 billion to be exact -- claiming that Uber was using Waymo's trade secret in Uber's self-driving cars. Under the settlement's terms, Uber will give Waymo a $245 million worth of equity in Uber.
Following the settlement announcement Uber's CEO released a statement basically explaining that the settlement was not an admission of guilt. He wrote: "To be clear, while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo's proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work."
Protecting Trade Secrets
Trade secrets are often the lifeblood of businesses. For this very reason, there have been many lawsuits over trade secrets, and the outcome can often make or break a company. Luckily trade secrets are generally protected under intellectual property and/or unfair competition laws. There are also certain actions you can take to protect your business's trade secrets. One way to protect your trade secrets is to have your employees sign a nondisclosure agreement. Another way is to remind employees when they are hired that theft of trade secrets is actually a crime.
Sometimes despite your efforts to protect your trade secrets, they can still be stolen. If you suspect that this has occurred, it's a good idea to contact an intellectual property attorney to learn about your options to prevent your trade secrets from being used to help a competitor's business.