Huawei Targeted in U.S. Criminal Probe

Federal prosecutors are pursuing a criminal investigation of China’s Huawei Technologies Co. for allegedly stealing trade secrets from U.S. business partners, including technology used by T-Mobile Inc. to test smartphones, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation grew in part out of civil lawsuits against Huawei, including one in which a Seattle jury found Huawei liable for misappropriating robotic technology from T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Wash., lab, the people familiar with the matter said. The probe is at an advanced stage and could lead to an indictment soon, they said.

A Huawei spokesman declined to comment on the federal probe but said Huawei and T-Mobile “settled their disputes in 2017 following a U.S. jury verdict finding neither damage, unjust enrichment nor willful and malicious conduct by Huawei in T-Mobile’s trade secret claim.” The company contested the T-Mobile case, but conceded that two employees acted improperly.

“Huawei has stolen that technology. It used that stolen technology to develop and improve its own testing robot, which it uses for its own benefit,” reads the complaint filed by T Mobile when the suit began in September 2014. “Huawei abused its relationship as a phone handset supplier for T-Mobile to obtain access to T-Mobile’s robot and, in violation of several confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements, copied the robot’s specifications and stole parts, software, and other trade secrets.”

News of the criminal investigation came just moments after a bipartisan group of senators introduced a series of bills that would ban the sale of U.S. microchips and other industrial components to Huawei.

 

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz