Tesla claims the venture, known as "Aurora," was inspired by self-driving startups like Cruise Automation and Otto, which were acquired by General Motors and Uber, respectively, for $1 billion and $680 million.
"In their zeal to play catch-up, traditional automakers have created a get-rich-quick environment," Tesla said in the suit.
In an emailed statement sent by Anderson on behalf of Aurora, the venture said Tesla's allegations were false and revealed "an unhealthy fear of competition."
"Aurora looks forward to disproving these false allegations in court and to building a successful self-driving business," the statement read.
Tesla hired Apple veteran Chris Lattner to replace Anderson in January. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the suit.