This is a pretty weak comparison, and it makes me wonder if the person writing wasn’t particularly familiar with LiDAR.
Publicly funded research belongs to the public. The foundational work was done for NOAA. Folks working for, near, and with DARPA have a long and storied history of contributory developments. The developments, history, and problematics of LiDAR are explored on campuses across the world.
It’s very easy as a communications professional to fall prey to sensationalism but there were stronger points in the complaint that could have been highlighted without flirting with the appearance that Alphabet is claiming to have invented LiDAR, when in reality you’re complaining about trade secret theft related to the novel application of well-understood tech.