A federal court jury has awarded failed electric aircraft startup Zunum $81 million in a suit against Boeing, finding the aerospace giant stole Zunum’s technology and then conspired to put it out of business. The Seattle Times is reporting the jury also found that Boeing’s actions were “willful and malicious,” and that gives the judge in the case the option to triple the award. Boeing told the court it initially invested in Zunum but determined it was a market that wouldn’t be viable. It said it would appeal the verdict.

Boeing and JetBlue invested a total of $1.3 million in Zunum and the State of Washington chipped in another $282,000 based on Zunum’s design for a nine-seat hybrid electric aircraft. The company never did build an aircraft and Boeing said it lost its investment. But Zunum alleged that Boeing launched a “targeted and coordinated campaign” to steal its design to build its own electric plane. It also alleged that Boeing interfered with Zunum’s attempt to attract other investors.

Boeing did build what it called a “conceptual mockup” that it used to determine that electric aviation is not viable. As for Zunum, it said the company failed on its own. “An ambitious startup’s reach exceeded its grasp, and investors fled,” the Times quoted Boeing’s court filing as saying. “What preliminarily looked like an interesting investment prospect that promised a new hybrid electric or electric aircraft turned into a loss for Boeing.”

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