Uber has sacked the man at the centre of an ongoing legal scandal in which Google has accused the taxi-hailing company of corporate espionage.
Anthony Levandowski is a former Google engineer – and now a former Uber engineer – who has been accused of stealing technology from one company and bringing it to the other.
The lawsuit brought by Waymo, the business unit developing self-driving vehicles at Google’s parent company Alphabet, alleges that there was a conspiracy between Uber and Mr Levandowski to steal its technology.
Waymo claims Mr Levandowski took 14,000 documents with him when he departed the company to create his own start-up called Otto, which was also building self-driving cars.
Uber acquired Otto for $680m (£540m) last year, at which point Mr Levandowski began to oversee Uber’s work on developing autonomous cars.
He stepped down from the leadership role at Uber following allegations of technology theft, but has now been fired from the company.
A spokesperson for Uber has said that Mr Levandowski was fired after failing to meet the deadline for returning the alleged stolen documents, as issued by the judge in the ongoing claim.
Waymo alleges that Uber and Mr Levandowski conspired to create Otto so that Uber could appear to have legitimately acquired the same technology as Waymo was using.
Uber denies these allegations. Mr Levandowski has refused to hand over the laptop on which he is alleged to have downloaded the documents despite a court order, and declined to answer Waymo’s questions.