Google's parent company Alphabet is suing taxi-hailing app company Uber, claiming that the perennially loss-making company stole intellectual property belonging to Alphabet's Waymo subsidiary.
Waymo is developing some of the technology behind self-driving vehicles, which Uber is also keen to develop. Specifically, Waymo is targeting Uber acquisition Otto, which Uber picked up for $700m last year.
According to the suit, Waymo's former boss Anthony Levandowski took trade secrets with him when he left to set up Otto. This tech is now instrumental to the workings of Otto's and Uber's own self-driving vehicle technology.
Levandowski is alleged to have downloaded 14,000 "highly confidential and proprietary design files" while at Waymo and that the actions were "part of a concerted plan to steal Waymo's trade secrets and intellectual property".
But the allegations go further, and very publicly so: "To gain access to Waymo's design server, Mr Levandowski searched for and installed specialised software onto his company-issued laptop.
"Once inside, he downloaded 9.7GB of Waymo's highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation. Then he connected an external drive to the laptop. Mr Levandowski then wiped and reformatted the laptop in an attempt to erase forensic fingerprints."
While there's little doubt that if Waymo's allegations turn out to be true this will be a major case of industrial espionage, it represents some chickens coming home to roost for the internet giant who was recently said to have overpaid self-driving executives to the point that they could afford to leave and set up competitors like Otto in the first place.
The crux of the lawsuit is about technology surrounding LiDAR, the way that Waymo's cars "see" the world by bouncing laser beams and measuring the time it takes for the light to bounce back.
A blog post outlining the action explains: "Hundreds of Waymo engineers have spent thousands of hours, and our company has invested millions of dollars to design a highly specialised and unique LiDAR system.
"Waymo engineers have driven down the cost of LiDAR dramatically even as we've improved the quality and reliability of its performance. The configuration and specifications of our LiDAR sensors are unique to Waymo."
Waymo added: "Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn't make this decision lightly. However, given the overwhelming facts that our technology has been stolen, we have no choice but to defend our investment and development of this unique technology."
The accusations from Waymo come in a week in which the company was accused of tolerating sexism.
Use the same password for every website? It might be time to change them all
Applicants for parking bay suspensions put at risk of credit card fraud by Islington Council
Robert Swan appointed interim CEO after Brian Krzanich's departure
Should you link your data sets to add value, or leave them separate to reduce risk?