As the war between China’s many food delivery startups continues to wage, even the slightest PR snafu can cause a serious setback, which is why China’s largest search engine is now suing Tencent and Sohu.

Baidu has submitted a defamation lawsuit against the two companies in reaction to a series of articles that claim Baidu’s food delivery unit, Baidu Waimai, sourced deliveries from unhygienic restaurants.

The two internet companies aided in publishing a combined 16 articles that Baidu has taken issue with.

The search company says a public account called ‘CEO来信’ on Tencent’s WeChat platform accused restaurants using Baidu Waimai of serving “toxic” meals and washing their vegetables in toilets. A public account called ‘互联资讯’ on Sohu’s platform published articles claiming Waimai restaurants were using expired foods.

In a public notice posted on the website of Beijing’s Haidian District Court,  Baidu says the claims are “seriously inaccurate” and have tarnished the company’s image.

Baidu is seeking damages and court fees amounting to 500,000 yuan (over $75,136 USD), as well as a written public apology for the articles. They are also asking that the public accounts behind the articles be suspended, and the social accounts attached to the reports be handed over to Baidu.

Cate Cadell

Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or catecadell@technode.com

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