(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc. sued Zoox Inc., a Silicon Valley startup that is a rival in the race for fully autonomous cars, and four of Elon Musk’s former employees, accusing them of stealing confidential information.

Tesla claims the former employees had worked in warehouse and distribution center management at Tesla’s regional Parts Distribution Centers (PDC) in Newark, California, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and took information and trade secrets "to help Zoox leapfrog past years of work needed to develop and run its own warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations."

Tesla says the four employees violated their employment contracts when they forwarded confidential information to their personal email accounts.

Zoox and Tesla didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, made before the regular start of business in California.

In Silicon Valley, the war for engineering talent is fierce among a handful of heavily funded startups like Zoox that are all racing to make autonomous cars. Zoox plans to launch a ride-hailing service for paying passengers by the end of 2020.

Click here to read the complaint

To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net, Joe Schneider

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