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Bombardier Accuses Mitsubishi of Stealing Aircraft Trade Secrets

October 22, 2018

On October 19, Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier filed suit in Seattle against Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Aerospace Testing Engineering & Certification Inc. (AeroTEC) and a number of former Bombardier employees, alleging the former employees conspired with Mitsubishi and others to steal trade secrets.

The charges tie to allegations that Mitsubishi Aircraft and/or AeroTEC, a company working with Mitsubishi to assist with certification for its 90-seat passenger jets, reached out to Bombardier employees regarding the aircraft certification process for Canada and the United States.

Mitsubishi Aircraft is a division of Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

Mitsubishi has been working on a new regional jet design for years. It has publicly noted having problems getting their new aircraft certified. The new jets, designed to compete with the highly-successful Bombardier C Series Jet, have a first customer – ANA Holdings Inc. – but have suffered serious delays in delivering because of the certification problem. The first deliveries to ANA were originally scheduled to take place in 2013. They are now scheduled to happen in 2020.

The lawsuit has plaintiff Bombardier accusing Mitsubishi Aircraft of violating the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. It did so, the suit says, by using confidential data and documents provided by former Bombardier employees in order to assist with the “extremely complex and costly” process of securing aircraft certification for the new Mitsubishi plane.

Bombardier noted that its C-series aircraft took over ten years from idea to production. Mitsubishi’s alleged active role in recruiting former Bombardier employees and stealing trade secrets was aimed at shortcutting its own process.

Copyright: North America Procurement Council Inc., PBC