US Judge rejects claim that Mitsubishi stole Bombardier’s trade secrets

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A judge has dismissed claims that the US subsidiary of Mitsubishi Aircraft stole trade secrets from Bombardier to help develop and certify the Mitsubishi Regional Jet aircraft.

The claim is part of a lawsuit made by the Canadian aerospace and transportation firm last October in a federal court in Seattle, Washington, against the Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Seattle-based Aerospace Testing, Engineering and Certification (AeroTEC) and a number of former Bombardier employees.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation and its US-subsidiary, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation America (MITAC America) have strongly refuted that they violated trade secret laws and filed a counterclaim alleging that Bombardier was engaging in anti-competitive behavior in January.

But, a decision by the court and United States District Judge James Robart made on April 15, says that Bombardier failed to provide sufficient evidence in its lawsuit that MITAC America knowingly misappropriated or used Bombardier’s trade secrets.

The court order says: “Bombardier’s failure to identify any MITAC America employee or executive who took or viewed a trade secret is crucial.

“The most Bombardier alleges regarding MITAC America’s knowledge of the trade secrets is that MITAC America recruited Bombardier employees to work on the MRJ’s certification. But merely recruiting another company’s employees does not meet the knowledge requirement for trade secret misappropriation.”

However, the court’s decision, which was made earlier this month, leaves open the option for Bombardier to supply new information and to pursue some of the other defendants in the lawsuit for damages.

Bombardier said, “The facts of this case plainly show an unlawful misappropriation by MITAC and the other named defendants, of Bombardier trade secrets to advance the certification of the MRJ aircraft.

“That sort of misconduct is unfair competition, it is wrong and it is illegal. Bombardier is currently reviewing the District Court’s judgment, which contains several elements supportive of Bombardier’s position, and will determine the best path going forward to enforce its rights and ensure that all wrongdoers are held accountable.”

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation said that it is encouraged by the court’s decision to dismiss Bombardier’s claims in their entirety. “We maintain the position that Bombardier’s allegations are without merit.

“Furthermore, Mitsubishi Aircraft is confident that it will ultimately prevail in defending itself from Bombardier’s unwarranted allegations, and that Bombardier’s actions will not adversely impact the development and entry into service of the MRJ [Mitsubishi Regional Jet] or the success of the MRJ program.”

Certification flight testing of the MRJ started in the USA in March. The much delayed 70-90 seat aircraft, development of which started in 2004 is expected to enter service in 2020.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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