By Dan Levine and Alexandria Sage
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An Uber executive at the center of a high-profile legal dispute with Alphabet Inc's Waymo self-driving-car unit has "no basis to believe" any criminal investigation is underway over allegations of trade secret theft, the executive's lawyer said in a court filing.
Waymo sued ride services company Uber Technologies Inc earlier this year, alleging that a former Waymo executive, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 confidential documents before leaving the company to subsequently join Uber. Waymo said Uber benefited from those documents.
Levandowski is not a defendant in the case, but he is a central figure in the litigation that pits two Silicon Valley technology giants against each other, both of which are vying to dominate in the competitive autonomous vehicles sector.
Waymo is seeking a preliminary injunction, which would temporarily stop Uber from using any of the allegedly stolen intellectual property. In connection with that request, Waymo is also asking Uber to turn over a range of documents and other information.
In a court filing on Tuesday, Levandowski's lawyers, of the firm Ramsey & Ehrlich, in Berkeley, California, wrote that Levandowski was asserting his constitutional right against self incrimination and asked that the judge narrow the amount of information Uber is required to disclose to Waymo.
"We have no basis to believe that he is presently under criminal investigation," Levandowski's lawyers wrote in the filing.
"But given the explosive nature of the accusations raised against him in this case, and the possibility that an investigation could be initiated at some later date, any prudent person in Mr. Levandowski's circumstances would be wise to ensure that his constitutional rights remain fully protected," the lawyers wrote.
A Waymo representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Uber has asked the judge to send the case to private arbitration. An Uber representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)