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Lockheed Countersued by Boeing

September 21, 2004|Peter Pae | Times Staff Writer

In a legal slugfest between the world's two largest defense contractors, Boeing Co. has filed a countersuit against Lockheed Martin Corp., claiming that its archrival is engaging in a smear campaign.

Boeing's federal suit, filed last month in Orlando, Fla., comes a year after Lockheed sued Boeing, alleging that it stole trade secrets to win a multibillion-dollar Air Force rocket contract.

Prosecutors have already charged two Boeing employees in connection with the theft of proprietary Lockheed documents during the high-stakes competition in the 1990s to build a new generation of rockets to launch satellites.

Boeing won most of the rocket contracts. But last year the Air Force stripped Boeing of about $1 billion of orders after investigating allegations that one of its workers stole documents from Lockheed.

Boeing, the largest private employer in Southern California, has maintained that the documents had no bearing on the rocket competition.

In its countersuit, Chicago-based Boeing claims that Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed "chose to sleep on its rights" and file its suit last year even though Lockheed knew about the document theft as early as June 1999.

Boeing claims that Lockheed's original lawsuit is part of an "unfair and wrongful effort to shift the blame for its own business failings." Boeing's suit also claims, without citing details, that Lockheed engaged in "extensive" misconduct including the theft of rivals' trade secrets.

Lockheed spokesman Tom Jurkowsky called Boeing's lawsuit "offensive."

Shares of Boeing fell 41 cents to $54.74 and Lockheed shares slid 41 cents to $54.26, both on the New York Stock Exchange.

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