Another disaster for Huawei, as United States has accused the company for stealing technology as well as trading secrets. For a long time, Huawei has been also under the supervision of the US government because of spying and national security concerns.
US prosecutors unveiled on Monday two accusations against Huawei. One of the charges is about the violation of laws against Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou and accuses the company of selling American technology to Iran. The other indictment charges Huawei for stealing the T-Mobile’s mobile phone technology.
According to the accusation, a Huawei employee entered a T-Mobile test lab, took pictures and hid a robot arm in his bag. The holdup was the last step in Huawei’s increasingly aggressive efforts to understand the operation of T-Mobile’s smartphone testing system.
“Huawei and its leaders have repeatedly refused to abide by US laws and usual international business practices,” said FBI director Christopher A. Wray.
The inquiry started from a civil lawsuit against the company, including Huawei’s identification of the use of T-Mobile (TMUS.O) robotics technology in Seattle. The employees had stolen technology related to a smartphone test robot owned by T-Mobile which was placed in a laboratory in Bellevue, Washington.
“By the time he was about to leave the lab,” the employee “surreptitiously placed one of Tappy’s robot arms in his laptop bag and secretly removed it from the lab,” according to the case filed.
The robot, code-named “Tappy,” uses human-like fingers to imitate the tapping action on the phone. In May 2017, a jury found that Huawei should pay T-Mobile $4.8 million in damages.
The mechanical “finger” is proficient of simulating hours of use in the real world. The robot was designed to sense the defects of new smartphones before they are sold to customers. It helps T-Mobile to improve customer satisfaction and reduce returns.
T-Mobile had granted a small number of specific employees of Huawei USA access to the testing laboratory in accordance with strict confidentiality agreements. Meanwhile, Huawei executives in China began to pressure these employees to gather more information about the operation. Later banned the access into laboratory after the incident.
In return of T-Mobile’s claims, Huawei said it did not steal trade secrets since “Tappy” is not a secret in any way. They also said that the video of the device can be easily found on YouTube. The details of its design and specifications have been available on several websites.
Huawei supposedly conducted a fake “internal investigation” and then wrote a report stating that the theft of secrets had been perpetrated by two individuals acting on their own and violated the policies of our society and therefore been dismissed for this reason.
Also, the company is facing consequences of the arrest of the daughter of the founder of Huawei, in Canada in early December. Meng Wanzhou is currently on trial in Vancouver pending an appearance before a Canadian judge on February 6 in an extradition proceeding initiated by the United States.