Self-driving car researcher and former Uber executive Anthony Levandowski might not even own the name Otto Motors. Otto was the self-driving truck company Levandowski sold to Uber Technologies Inc. for $680 million last year.
A Canadian company named Clearpath Robotics Inc. filed a trademark infringement suit against Levandowski’s company in the Northern District of California on August 24, 2016. Attorney Kuyler Neable reported. Clearpath also charged Otto with “unfair competition, and unfair advertising” in Clearpath Robotics, Inc. v. Ottomotto LLC (Case Number: 3:2016 cv 04891).
“The OTTO brand and trademark are properly associated with Clearpath Robotics Inc., and not Mr. Levandowski’s former company called Ottomotto LLC,” Neable wrote in an October 2 email to Market Mad House.
Some Fascinating Autonomous Vehicles
Clearpath Robotics Inc specializes in the development of autonomous vehicles including robot boats, tractors, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Its website shows some impressive vehicles including a robot tractor pulling an airliner on a runway and a robot boat. Its ATVs are shown driving around in the snow and in all manner of terrain.
Another fascinating development at Clearpath is the Warthog unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). The Warthog is apparently an amphibious vehicle which means it would be able to cross streams or drive from landing craft onto the beach.
It looks as if Clearpath is developing some truly fascinating autonomous vehicles which will be of interest to the world’s militaries. The Warthog, in particular, would be very useful as an ammo or weapons carrier for the U.S Marine Corps.
Levandowski and Uber in even more Legal Trouble
Neable wrote that Clearpath’s lawsuit may have been dismissed but Levandowski is still in lots of legal trouble.
A report that alleges former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick may have known that documents Levandowski allegedly swiped from Alphabet’s self-driving car unicorn Waymo were stolen has surfaced, Wired reported. If that report is true both Kalanick and Levandowski may have committed felonies that can lead to prison time.
A due-diligence report on Otto Motors prepared by a cybersecurity Stroz Friedberg, LLC for Uber charges Levandowski knew the data was stolen, Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) attorneys alleged. The report is big trouble for Uber because it was reportedly prepared before the ride-hailing unicorn bought Otto Motors. To make matters worse, Alphabet’s lawyers made the document public on 2 October 2016 by including it as evidence in a lawsuit against Levandowski and Uber.
The most explosive allegation in the report is that Uber executives knew Levandowski may have had possession of thousands of files on Waymo’s self-driving car project, that were actually Alphabet’s property. Levandowski worked as an engineer at Alphabet’s self-driving car project before it became Waymo and before he left to start Otto. One has to wonder if these reports will be the end of Uber’s self-driving car and truck project.
Is Uber’s Self-Driving car Project Dead?
A strong possibility is that Uber will have to end all autonomous car and truck research and exit the business to settle the lawsuit with Google. Another is that companies like Ford (NYSE: F) and Volvo will no longer want anything to do with the Uber self-driving vehicles.
It is not clear how these revelations will affect Levandowski’s efforts to create a religion designed to worship an artificial-intelligence (AI) “Godhead.” Levandowski was identified as President and CEO of an organization called “Way of the Future” in September 2015 court documents.
Way of the Future’s purpose is to “To develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”
One has to wonder what the AI Godhead would have to say about theft. We imagine it would be something along the lines of “Thou Shall Not Steal,” a lesson that Levandowski appears not to have learned.