Waymo's lawsuit against Uber has been referred to federal prosecutors to begin a criminal probe

Courtney Goldsmith
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Waymo said Uber stole its confidential tech (Source: Getty)

A US judge has called for a criminal investigation into allegations by Google's driverless car unit Waymo that Uber stole its technology.

Uber argued its rival's trade secret theft allegations should go ahead in private arbitration, but US district judge William Alsup ruled against it. The judge also partially granted Waymo's bid for an injunction against Uber's self-driving efforts.

The ride-hailing app, which an EU official yesterday ruled was a transport company rather than a tech firm, has had a tumultuous year, having come under fire for workplace sexual harassment and using a secret technology to evade regulators among public missteps by boss Travis Kalanick.

And the strategic and financial consequences of this case are huge, potentially determining the future of Uber's self-driving car operations.

Waymo said former employee Anthony Levandowski stole over 14,000 confidential files from the company before he left and then co-founded the self-driving startup Otto, which was later acquired by Uber.​ Waymo said Uber used its tech to avoid years of costly research.

Read more: Now you can test out Google's driverless cars

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