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Software engineer’s row with Rolls-Royce heads to court

Rolls-Royce is at the centre of a multimillion-pound battle over the alleged stealing of business secrets from a technology company that provided the luxury carmaker with software enabling its clientele to customise their £250,000 cars virtually.

The action brought by Topalsson, a software engineer, goes to the High Court in London next month in a claim and counterclaim by the Goodwood-based Rolls-Royce Motor Cars over breach of contract in the provision of the so-called configurator technology.

In a parallel criminal case in Germany, Topalsson is accusing BMW, Rolls’s German parent, of stealing its intellectual property. It claims to have seen its tech in action in showrooms long after agreements between the two companies had been terminated. BMW denies the claims.

Topalsson, based in Munich, was hired by Rolls-Royce to create virtual configurator technology for various models. It allows customers to choose what colours, components and internal set-ups they wish in their car either on a display screen in a showroom or remotely by handheld electronic tablet.

Topalsson signed a contract with BMW and Rolls-Royce in 2018. That agreement was terminated soon after the outbreak of Covid-19 in April 2020 — unlawfully so, according to Topalsson. It is suing Rolls for €6.4 million for work completed but unpaid.

Rolls is countersuing for €18.6 million, demanding Topalsson pays compensation for failing to hit deadlines to install the tech and the cost of having to find an alternative supplier. The case is due to run throughout most of October.

Rolls-Royce said that “Topalsson’s performance was entirely unsatisfactory from the outset and [Rolls] was … forced to terminate the contract.

“Rolls-Royce has defended the claim, which it considers to be without merit, and has made a counterclaim for the substantial losses resulting from Topalsson’s failure to perform.”

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