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This case allowed me to examine the legal and ethical issues about trade secret protection and misrepresentation between two establishments, Uber and Waymo. Trade Secrets are valuable information used in the conduct of a business that isn’t commonly known by others. According to Lockean view, it is also considered as a form of intellectual property ownership whereby an inventor working for a company that manufactures the invention; the company becomes the rightful owner of the invention. (Pearson, 2012). Uber and Waymo legal action over driverless cars signifies the importance for company’s right to protect their trade secrets. Such information should ultimately be kept a secret to combat the contingency of theft and improper disclosure.
Therefore, employees are obligated to practice confidentiality by not disclosing or using any information acquired during their employment to manufacture anything or even provided as a service to others. With this being said, it is essential that trade secrets be protected at all time because it allows a business to be at a competitive advantage over competitors, since their proprietary information adds significant value towards the survival of their business. Nonetheless, I support the sentiment that employees are free to move from one job to the next as they choose and or even start their own business. My reasons for affiliating with this sentiment derived from two ethical theories; utilitarianism perspective and virtue of ethics perspective. As it relates to the utilitarianism perspective, an action is right if and only if it produces the greatest balance of pleasure over pain for everyone which determines right from wrong by focusing on the outcomes of the action (a form of consequentialism) (Pearson, 2012).
As such, Uber and Waymo situation can be justified using this theory because it is the most ethical alternative that will produce the greatest outcome of good for everyone. Also, from a business standpoint, it is the most prevalent and defensible approach for moral reasoning in terms of costs and benefits for all. On the other hand, bearing in mind that one cannot predict the future, uncertainty may arise from the consequences of one’s action. In addition, virtue of ethics theory deals with ethics of character; the kind of person that one should be in society. This perspective focuses directly on individual’s moral character as opposed to rights of an action. It is known that the virtues of a good businessman are the same as those of a good person (Solomon) (Pearson, 2012). With regards to Uber and Waymo situation, it can be justified using this theory, “traditionally going back to Aristotle, virtue ethics has tried to ground itself on a teleological basis” (Nussbaum 2000). However, Mr. Levandowski’s actions that manifested insinuates his true reflection of who he is as an individual where he indicated that he did not committed the offense of dishonesty and misrepresentation.
In order for the trade secrets protection, information must be known only by its owner and respective authorized personnel(s). Furthermore, the implementation of a confidentiality agreement should be signed by relevant employees who have been provided with such critical information. In doing so, employers can maintain secrecy of valuable information consequently protecting their business from adverse situations in the near future.
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