Anthony Levandowski's attorneys invoked the Fifth Amendment in declining to hand over relevant documents.

Uber executive Anthony Levandowski has reportedly asserted Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the lawsuit filed by Google's Waymo.

Waymo accused Levandowski -- the former head of Google's self-driving car project -- of stealing thousands of proprietary design files before creating his own startup, Otto, that was acquired by Uber for $680 million. The lawsuit claims he then used the files to replicate Waymo's important LiDAR technology for Uber.

Court transcripts obtained by The New York Times suggest Levandowski's lawyers broadly invoked the Fifth Amendment since there was a "potential for criminal action" related to the civil case.

The Fifth Amendment assertion is said to be focused on preventing "compelled disclosure that would identify the existence, location or possession of any responsive documents," though Uber's lawyers suggest the decision could change as the case proceeds.

Judge William Alsup of the US District Court in San Francisco is said to have noted that Uber could compel Levandowski to cooperate in the case or terminate his employment.

"We are very confident that Waymo's claims against Uber are baseless and that Anthony Levandowski has not used any files from Google in his work with Otto or Uber," Uber associate general counsel Angela Padilla said in a statement.