Executives at Rolls-Royce and BMW have been accused of stealing technology from a German software company in a bitter row over the British brand’s luxury Ghost sedan.
Topalsson, a Munich-based software business, has made a complaint to prosecutors in the German city over what it says is illegal use of its systems by the British car-maker.
Originally contracted to make a digital “configurator” that customers could use to design their £300,000 Ghost, Topalsson sued Rolls-Royce and its parent company BMW after the deal was terminated.
The German business has now escalated the £7.9m dispute from a civil case in the High Court to a criminal complaint in its home country, ahead of the London proceedings being heard before a judge next month.
A BMW spokesman said: “We consider Topalsson’s behaviour to be an attempt to exert pressure in order to reach a commercial agreement regarding the proceedings pending in England.”
Timo Poser, the finance director at Rolls-Royce, is among a group of six managers from the carmaker and its parent company who have been accused by Topalsson of breaking German criminal laws on copyright infringement.
The software company’s complaint was filed in mid-August at the Munich Public Prosecutor’s office, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.
Rolls-Royce and BMW both deny the claims and describe them as “entirely without merit”, the British company said. A counterclaim has been filed.
British court filings show that Topalsson is pursuing Rolls-Royce for breach of contract over a computer programme used to display a digital version of the luxury Ghost sedan.
Topalsson says that the British business, which is owned by BMW, wrongly terminated a contract for software that let customers pull up a “configurator” for the Ghost on a computer screen.
The configurator is a piece of interactive software displayed on a website and used for picking customisable options on a new car, such as interior colours.
Rolls-Royce is said to have terminated Topalsson’s contract over failures to deliver the configurator on time.
The German business alleges that despite having delivered a working prototype, Rolls-Royce kicked it off the Ghost project before helping itself to the software developed by Topalsson.
The civil and criminal cases continue.