Uber's Anthony Levandowsky invokes Fifth Amendment rights

Uber executive and Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski is invoking his Fifth Amendment rights over a lawsuit filed by Waymo against Uber, for allegedly stealing technology related to autonomous vehicles from the Google self-driving car project prior to his departure. (See: Google's-parent Alphabet sues Uber for 'stealing' autonomous car tech)

The court heard a lawyer for Levandowski say that the engineer would exercise his Fifth Amendment rights broadly because there existed ''potential for criminal action'' which could lead to self-incrimination,  The New York Times reported.

Court transcripts of the hearing on Thursday, showed that Levandowski's lawyer invoked the amendment in what appeared to be a precaution in a related to a document release by Uber, according to TechCrunch. Uber's lawyers claimed that it did not possess the documents Levandowski allegedly stole from Waymo and therefore would not be handing them over the next day as part of a scheduled document production.
 
''We're broadly asserting Mr Levandowski's Fifth Amendment rights as to any documents he may possess and control that are of relevance to this action,'' a lawyer for Levandowski told the court. Levandowski's assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege could change, however, as the case progressed.

According to commentators, Levandowski's acknowledgement of his potential criminal liability was another interesting turn in what had been a dramatic court proceeding so far between the two companies.

They add that the trade secrets case could turn out to be one of the most significant and closely-watched battles in Silicon Valley in years as two of the world's most powerful companies, and former partners faced each other.

Uber's associate general counsel Angela Padilla said in a statement provided to Business Insider that it planned to respond in court on 7 April.

"We look forward to our first public response laying out our case on Friday, April 7. We are very confident that Waymo's claims against Uber are baseless and that Anthony Levandowski has not used any files from Google in his work with Otto or Uber," she said.