A lawsuit by Waymo, alleging the use by rival Uber Technologies of stolen trade secrets relating to autonomous vehicle technology, has been referred by a federal judge to a U.S. attorney, raising the possibility of a criminal prosecution.

“This case is referred to the United States Attorney for investigation of possible theft of trade secrets based on the evidentiary record supplied thus far concerning plaintiff Waymo LLC’s claims for trade secret misappropriation,” wrote Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California late Thursday.

“The Court takes no position on whether a prosecution is or is not warranted, a decision entirely up to the United States Attorney,” Judge Alsup added.

In another order, the Judge also rejected Uber’s motion that most of the claims of the lawsuit should be settled through arbitration, a process that is usually conducted in private, and is cheaper and faster than a federal lawsuit.

The dispute in the autonomous vehicle technology market reflects the stiff competition to get driverless vehicles in the hands of consumers. Besides Waymo and Uber, a number of other tech companies and traditional car makers are targeting the new opportunity.

Waymo filed a suit in February in the California court, alleging that a former employee Anthony Levandowski stole trade secrets relating to self-driving cars before leaving to start Otto, a self-driving trucking company that was later acquired by Uber. Other former Waymo employees who left for Uber and Otto were also found downloading sensitive files, Waymo claimed.

Waymo has also charged Uber of of infringing on two of its patents.

The Alphabet unit has alleged in its complaint that Uber got a head start by pilfering its technology, and built its own comparable LiDAR system within nine months. Before he quit, Levandowski led a team of Waymo engineers who developed LiDAR technology for its self-driving car project, according to court documents.