Photo/IllutrationA Mitsubishi Regional Jet takes off from Nagoya Airport for a flight to the United States. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The beleaguered manufacturer of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet is being sued by Canada's Bombardier Inc. on grounds it unlawfully obtained trade secrets.

Montreal-based Bombardier filed a lawsuit Oct. 19 at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington state in Seattle against Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., claiming the company unlawfully obtained confidential information through the recruitment of former Bombardier employees.

Mitsubishi Aircraft, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., is trying to mass-produce small jets that seat between 70 and 90 passengers, but it has postponed delivery of the aircraft five times.

The lawsuit claims that some of the 92 former Bombardier engineers recruited by Mitsubishi Aircraft and a Seattle-based firm it partners sent supposedly protected data to their personal e-mail accounts before leaving, among other means.

Bombardier further claims that Mitsubishi Aircraft planned to use such trade secrets to obtain a "type certificate," a key document issued by aviation authorities before the company can move forward with aircraft production.

The lawsuit seeks to ban the use of Bombardier data inappropriately obtained by the Japanese aircraft manufacturer, as well as compensation for damage.

The claimant is also asking for an injunction against Mitsubishi Aircraft in the future from recruiting former Bombardier employees, some of whom have decades of experience in the design of aircraft.

Bombardier mass produces the C-Series of jets, seating between 100 and 150 passengers. The company has already acquired the type certificate for the jet from the United States and Canada.

An official with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said Bombardier's claim "was baseless," adding that it would fight the lawsuit in court after further consideration after confirming the contents.

(This article was written by Takashi Ebuchi in New York and Takehiro Tomoda.)