Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo can proceed with a planned October trial over claims Uber Technologies Inc. stole trade secrets for self-driving vehicles after a US appeals court declined to punt the case to an arbitrator and rejected an effort to keep Waymo from seeing critical evidence. But Waymo countered that because the lawsuit names Uber as a defendant, not Levandowski, it's not subject to that arbitration agreement.
"Contract law principles hold that non-parties to a contract are generally not bound by the contract", Circuit Judge Pauline Newman wrote, on behalf of a panel of three judges.
Neither Uber nor Waymo immediately provided comments on Wednesday's ruling.
A federal circuit judge dealt a blow to Uber in Alphabet's lawsuit against the ride-hailing company.
Waymo has sought the document for months, saying it could shed light on what Uber executives knew of Levandowski's actions. Uber then acquired Otto and brought on Levandowski to head its own self-driving auto effort.
Throughout this case, Waymo has argued that there is likely information inside the due diligence report, which was prepared by legal firm Stroz Friedberg, that could answer a lot of the questions Levandowski has refused to answer as a result of him exercising his Fifth Amendment rights. The report may contain hidden secrets that, once exposed, could decide the case in its favor, Waymo has said.
Under court order, Levandowski was first walled off by Uber from working on the technology in dispute and then fired in May after the trial judge ordered the company to use its full authority to force the engineer to comply with a court order to turn over evidence. Levandowski appealed Alsup's decision; Uber decided not to. The board saw an overview version of the document after Waymo sued, but they still haven't laid eyes on the complete report. "Indeed, the withheld report may be the only source of much of this information".