(Adds request for comment from Bombardier)
By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL, Dec 20 (Reuters) - A trade secrets lawsuit brought by Canada’s Bombardier Inc against the aircraft unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd should be dismissed because the allegations are baseless and designed to “disrupt development” of a rival jet, a spokesman for the Japanese company said on Thursday.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp filed a court motion calling for the dismissal of Bombardier’s October lawsuit, in which the Canadian planemaker said its former employees passed on trade secrets to help Mitsubishi’s oft-delayed regional jet project, spokesman Jeff Dronen said.
Bombardier’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. federal court in Seattle against Mitsubishi, Seattle-based Aerospace Testing Engineering & Certification Inc (AeroTEC) and several former Bombardier employees.
“We categorically deny Bombardier’s claims that we ever sought or misappropriated any trade secrets from current or former employees of Bombardier,” Dronen said by email. “These materials would not be useful or applicable to our program, which relies on a unique certification process distinct from those employed for any Bombardier aircraft program.”
A Bombardier spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Bombardier employees who were recruited by Mitsubishi or AeroTEC brought with them confidential documents and data related to the certification of airplanes in Canada and the United States.
In the lawsuit, Bombardier accused Mitsubishi Aircraft of violating the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 by trying to use the confidential data and documents obtained from former employees to accelerate the “extremely complex and costly” process of getting its planes certified.
Mitsubishi’s regional jet program, Japan’s first passenger plane since the 1960s, has been delayed by several years, with first customer ANA Holdings Inc now expecting the 90-seater plane in 2020, rather than in 2013 as originally envisaged.
It is set to compete against Bombardier’s CRJ regional jets.
Dronen said Bombardier’s lawsuit is “intended to disrupt development of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and “inhibit the introduction of new competition into the regional aircraft market.” (Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal Editing by Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler)