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Lyft Accuses Uber of ‘Witch Hunt’ for Secrets

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Uber is using discovery requests in a data-breach lawsuit to snatch trade secrets from its archrival, Lyft claims in Federal Court.

Lyft sought a protective order on Feb. 18, accusing Uber of conducting a "witch-hunt" to harass one of its employees, steal trade secrets and "distract attention from its long and storied history of data breaches."

Uber claims it needs the information to find out if Lyft or its unnamed employee were involved in a data breach that compromised the personal data of 50,000 Uber drivers.

The disputed discovery requests surfaced in October last year after U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler dismissed a class action from former Uber driver Sasha Antman, with leave to amend .

Antman claimed a data breach in May 2014 jeopardized his and tens of thousands of Uber drivers' personal information.

Beeler found that Antman failed to allege an injury resulting from the breach, which Uber claims exposed only drivers' names and driver's license numbers.

Since the dismissal, Uber has served Lyft and its unnamed employee with 11 discovery requests, seeking copies of "competitive intelligence Lyft gathered about Uber" and access to the employee's computers, emails and messages, including internal Lyft communications.

Uber acknowledged its engineers left a confidential security key "lying around" and available through a public website for about six months before the breach occurred, Lyft stated in its motion for a protective order.

Uber previously sought discovery from Comcast to identify a person using an IP address that got access to the security key used in the breach.

Reuters reported in October last year that two anonymous sources identified the user of that IP address as Lyft's technology chief, Chris Lambert.

But Lyft responded that it had investigated the allegations and found Lambert had nothing to do with the breach.

In its Feb. 18 motion for a protective order, Lyft says Uber has backpedaled on its claim that only names and driver's license numbers were compromised by the breach, in a calculated effort to continue its "witch hunt" for Lyft's secrets.

"What Uber saw was an opportunity to wrest control of this (dismissed) case, string the plaintiff along for as long as it needed, and issue a swath of subpoenas seeking confidential, internal information about its chief competitor," Lyft stated in the motion.

"Enough is enough. Lyft respectfully requests that this Court rein Uber in, and that it grant Lyft's motion for a protective order preventing any further abusive and harassing discovery," the motion concludes.

Lyft is represented by Rachael Meny with Keker Van Nest in San Francisco.

Uber, represented by Gibson, Dunn and Krutcher, has not yet filed a response to Lyft's motion.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for March 24.

Follow @NicholasIovino
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