Google Objects to Sharing Sensitive Data in Antitrust Probe, First Medicine Delivery by Drones in the US, Walmart and Tesla Settle Lawsuit and more
This is Part II of the IP Privacy and Anti-trust news for the week of 4th November, 2019. Part I is available here.
Google Objects to Sharing Sensitive Data in Antitrust Probe; Non-Personal Data Regulation: Recommendations from eCommerce Platforms; First Medicine Delivery by Drones in the US; Walmart and Tesla Settle Lawsuit; WeRide: Corporate Espionage Case and more.
Google Objects to Sharing Sensitive Data in Antitrust Probe
As part of an ongoing anti-trust investigation into Google’s massive digital advertising business in the US, the search giant has been asked to provide sensitive information about its ad operation and data collection policies. Google though, is weary of providing this confidential information, fearing that such information could be leaked to its rivals during the anti-trust investigation by the state attorney generals. Due to this Google has also filed a motion in a Texas Court, to protest the hiring of two consultants working on this investigation, since these consultants had previously worked with News Corp and Microsoft, both of which are Google’s industry rivals.
Google claims that it has complied with the regulatory requirements and has provided millions of pages of documents as requested. However, in return for such compliance, Google has asked for assurance that such information will not be shared with competitors or other people who could potentially harm the investigation process.
Non-Personal Data Regulation: Recommendations from eCommerce Platforms
Protecting personal data of the citizens has always been a priority for the government and currently the Indian government is working on the Draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2019. Under this bill the government has defined “personal data as any data that allows direct or indirect identifiability of the user”, while non-personal data broadly includes any data that is not included as personal data.
Non-personal data however, does not allow traceability and could be defined as “the accumulation of data used by digital companies to push their products and services.” In order to deal with the matter of regulating non-personal data, a committee was set up by the government in September of this year and is led by Kris Gopalakrishnan, the co-founder of Infosys. The committee so far has worked with healthcare companies and cab-service companies like Ola and Uber. This committee will now be seeking the opinion of ecommerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart for the implementation of such regulations and is also keen on understanding the manner in which these companies plan to utilise such data. Additionally, the committee will also be looking at issues related to data portability and the reasons that such companies would share non-personal data.
First Medicine Delivery by Drones in the US
United Parcel Service (UPS) and CVS Pharmacy together have now made delivery of prescription drugs via drones a reality. Customers can now have their medicines delivered to them at their doorstep by drones as UPS recently used the Matternet M2 drone to demonstrate the same, in partnership with Matternet. UPS was given the green light by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) last month to fly its fleet of commercial drones for providing services to customers.
After the pharmacists pre-loaded these drones with the medicines, they flew autonomously from the store location to nearby customer homes, dropping off the packages from a hover height of around 20 feet above these locations. UPS now aims to increase its fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) which can further increase its commercial capacity. For this purpose, it has also launched ‘UPS Flight Forward’ which will be a dedicated division focused on autonomous drone delivery.
Walmart and Tesla Settle Lawsuit
Walmart, the retail giant, agreed to settle a lawsuit that it had filed against Tesla, the American automotive and energy company, for breach of contract and gross negligence after rooftop panels installed by Tesla on several of the retailer’s stores allegedly caught fire. This lawsuit was filed in a New York state Court against Tesla Energy Operations.
Soon after the lawsuit was filed, both the companies announced that they were in the process of reaching an agreement to keep the solar installations in place and have them repaired and back in service soon. Walmart had filed this lawsuit due to the fact that Tesla had failed to adhere to industry standards which had continued for several years after the panels were installed.
The retailer has asked Tesla to remove solar panels from all 240 locations where they have been installed, as well as pay for damages related to fires that the retailer alleges stem from the panels.
WeRide: Corporate Espionage Case
WeRide, a Silicon Valley-based self-driving technology company, filed a lawsuit in a District Court in California, against AllRide AI Inc, a driverless car company, for allegedly stealing its source code for its self-driving technology. The Judge granted a preliminary injunction to prevent AllRide from using stolen trade secrets, which WeRide later appealed to expand and personally enjoin two of their former employees (Wang and Huang) as well on the grounds of corporate espionage and for setting up shadow companies to evade liabilities.
The Judge, after being satisfied with WeRide’s grounds for appeal, agreed to expand the preliminary injunction to include both Wang and Huang in their personal capacity as co-defendants in this matter. Further, the expanded injunction also applied to Kaizr, Inc. which is the shell company set up by Huang. WeRide’s suspicion of AllRide’s alleged potential theft was confirmed when it noticed AllRide “giving demonstrations to prospective investors using technology that was developed in an accelerated time frame and with design concepts similar to that of WeRide.”
Additionally, WeRide also mentioned in its claims that “Wang had his wife Rong Wang buy all the shares of the Chinese parent company Smart Car AI Holdings, which owned all of the aforementioned corporations accused of trade secret theft.” However, it remains to be seen now whether WeRide will be successful in proving its claims of alleged software and data theft against AllRide.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar and Ashwini Arun (Associates, BananaIP Counsels)
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