Boeing accused in lawsuit of stealing trade secrets for NASA rocket

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Boeing was sued on Wednesday by a Colorado company that accused the aerospace giant of stealing trade secrets for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and then building components with safety flaws “critical” that could endanger astronauts.

Wilson Aerospace said it worked with Boeing for two years from 2014 after Boeing, fearing the loss of billions of dollars in NASA revenue, asked for its help in safely attaching engines to the rocket.

According to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle, Boeing then canceled Wilson’s work on the project while continuing to use his intellectual property without receiving “full instructions” on how to build and install it, creating security risks.

“Boeing captured billions of dollars in revenue as a result of breaching Wilson’s trade secrets” and must cede “all revenues and profits Boeing obtained as a result,” according to the lawsuit.

Wilson also said Boeing stole trade secrets related to bolt installation tools for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft. He said Boeing asked him to design the tools in 2012.

“This lawsuit is rife with inaccuracies and omissions,” Boeing, based in Arlington, Va., said in a statement. “We will vigorously defend against this in court.”

Wilson is based in Fort Collins, Colorado, and made up of founder David Wilson, his son, and his wife. The company is also seeking treble damages.

Boeing has described NASA’s Space Launch System as the most powerful rocket ever built and “the backbone of a permanent human presence in deep space”.

First launched Nov. 16 on an uncrewed flight, the rocket is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send astronauts to the moon for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

NASA is short for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The case is Wilson Aerospace LLC v Boeing Co, US District Court, Western District of Washington, No. 23-00847.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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