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'Greed is good' email sparks controversy at Waymo-Uber trial

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 1987 movie "Wall Street," in which Michael Douglas' character utters the famous line "Greed is good," became the latest point of controversy Tuesday in the Waymo-Uber trade secrets trial.

Waymo, which alleges that Uber possesses stolen trade secrets, wants to show that video clip to the jury after Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick takes the stand.

No, Uber lawyers told the judge, too emotional and prejudicial. They asked the judge to not allow it.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said he'd decide once Kalanick, a witness in the case, takes the stand Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday.

The "greed is good" issue arises from an email that former Uber employee Anthony Levandowski sent to Kalanick in March 2016. Waymo is accusing Levandowski of stealing its trade secrets and taking them to Uber when he joined the company.

Waymo is a self-driving car development company and subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google.

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The trial centers on Waymo's claim that Uber gained illegal access to eight trade secrets found among gigabytes of data allegedly downloaded from Waymo servers and stolen by Levandowski.

The Levandowski email included an attachment with the Wall Street clip, and Levandowski's suggesting that: "This is the speech you need to give. Wink wink."

Uber lawyers noted that the movie is fiction.

Alsup, who's seen the film, said, "I'm going to take notice that it's all true," to the jury's amusement.

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