Bombardier has filed a complaint in a Seattle district court against Mitsubishi Aircraft for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets in an effort to speed certification of the long-delayed MRJ regional jet. The October 19 complaint also names U.S.-based program partner AeroTec, an engineering company Mitsubishi hired to help with the MRJ’s certification, and several former Bombardier employees.
According to the lawsuit, Mitsubishi hired at least 92 former Bombardier employees with the help of a Montreal-area job fair in July 2016, advertised specifically as an effort to secure systems engineers to work on the MRJ program. Shortly thereafter, Mitsubishi secured an employment commitment from Bombardier’s Transport Canada design approval designee for the C Series and Global 7000/8000, who, according to the suit, actively provided MRJ certification guidance during Bombardier business hours through his personal email one week before he left the Canadian company.
The suit also references AeroTec’s alleged “targeted recruiting campaign,” in which it held a job fair in October 2015 in Wichita—home of Bombardier’s flight test center in the U.S.—to interview candidates to work on MRJ flight testing in Seattle. It also charges AeroTec with targeting Bombardier personnel by arranging for billboards mounted on flatbed trucks advertising the job fair and displayed immediately outside the Bombardier flight test center.
“Bombardier faces significant harm from its competitor’s access to its trade secrets and confidential information,” said Bombardier in a statement to AIN. “We have strong evidence to support that Bombardier trade secrets were misappropriated and are being used for the certification of the MRJ Regional Jet...Bombardier does not take these actions regarding its trade secrets lightly and is taking all the necessary steps to protect its intellectual property.”
For its part, Mitsubishi denies any wrongdoing and said it will “strongly defend” its position in the case. “We strongly reject this lawsuit and find their allegations and assertions without merit,” it said in its own statement.