SpaceX Rockets to Court

It's a case custom-made for you antitrust space law aficionados.

But no surprise. After all, in May, when Boeing and Lockheed Martin
announced their agreement to form United Launch Alliance, a joint venture for government launch services, you expected something like this. Yes, SpaceX has rounded up and sued the usual suspects -- Boeing and Lockheed -- for violating antitrust laws and conspiring to snuff out competition.

And you know when Elon Musk sends in Morrison & Foerster, a firm that made The American Lawyer's "
A-List" of the top 20 law firms for the second year in a row, it'll be a firefight. (Elon, who funds SpaceX out of his personal multimillions, has said he can afford three launch failures. Well, maybe two, after this litigation.)

Read Mofo's
complaint for plaintiff SpaceX, filed Oct. 19 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. (via SpaceRef)

And the battle is on. Defendants will argue, inter alia, that with a contract but no launches, start-up SpaceX is no EELV-class launch competitor of industry giants Boeing and Lockheed.

Interestingly, SpaceX's target launch date for
Falcon I's maiden flight is Halloween, which was to be after the FTC's decision was expected on the ULA joint venture. (Falcon I will launch FalconSat-2, part of the Air Force Academy's satellite program to investigate space plasma.) But according to a Reuters item today, the Wall Street Journal has reported the Commission is delaying its decision (which restarts the 30-day clock, again).

European Commission cleared the merger in August.)

Stay tuned.

* * *

Update: If Space Exploration Technologies Corporation v. The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation inspires you to brush up on antitrust law, or you need some CLE credits, check out the Seventh Annual
Sedona Conference on Antitrust Law & Litigation, Nov. 3-4, 2005 in Sedona, Arizona, which will focus on "the role of economics in antitrust, exclusive dealing, joint venture law, the Robinson-Patman Act, the intersection of the patent and antitrust laws, and the trial of an antitrust case." Sponsors include Arnold & Porter and Gray Plant Mooty.

Also, on Dec. 7, Indiana University School of Law offers a course on
Competition Law in a Global Context. (And personally, I could use the help.)

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