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Boeing should pay more than $300 mln after US verdict, EV aircraft maker says

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By Blake Brittain

June 17 (Reuters) -Electric aircraft startup Zunum Aero has asked a federal judge in Seattle to add more than $234 million in damages and attorneys' fees to a $72 million jury verdict it won against Boeing BA.N in a trade secrets case last month.

Zunum told the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Friday that it should enhance the award based on Boeing's "willful and malicious" misuse of its secrets, order Boeing to pay $24.7 million of Zunum's fees and add millions more in other damages and interest.

Attorneys and spokespeople for Boeing and Zunum did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment. Boeing has denied wrongdoing.

Seattle area startup Zunum was founded in 2013 to make small electric commuter aircraft that can travel up to 1,500 miles. Boeing's venture capital arm invested $5 million in Zunum in 2017.

Zunum said in its 2020 lawsuit that it planned to begin selling its aircraft in 2022 until it was "forced to halt its development program due to Boeing-caused capital starvation." The complaint said that Boeing developed its own hybrid commuter aircraft with Zunum's trade secrets.

A federal jury last month awarded Zunum nearly $81.2 million from Boeing for trade secret theft and $11.6 for tortious interference, but reduced the total award to $72 million based on damages that Zunum could have mitigated.

Zunum told the court on Friday that it should add damages to the award, including $162.5 million for what it described as Boeing's malicious misuse of its secrets.

Zunum said that Boeing has continued to gain "significant benefits" from Zunum's innovations. The startup said Boeing has used Zunum's secrets to advance its electric vehicle technology and drive Zunum out of business, "avoiding a nascent competitive threat" that could "potentially open up the duopolistic market for commercial aircraft."

The case is Zunum Aero Inc v. Boeing Co, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, No. 2:21-cv-00896.

For Zunum: Scott Danner and Vincent Levy of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg

For Boeing: John Hueston, Moez Kaba and Yegor Fursevich of Hueston Hennigan; David Perez and Madeline Swan of Perkins Coie

Read more:

Boeing hit with $72 mln verdict in EV aircraft trade secrets case


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