DoJ accuses China's Hytera of stealing Motorola IP

Federal indictment alleges Shenzhen firm conspired with former employees of Motorola Solutions to pilfer 'walkie-talkie' trade secrets from US company.

Ken Wieland, contributing editor

February 9, 2022

3 Min Read
DoJ accuses China's Hytera of stealing Motorola IP

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged Chinese tech firm Hytera of stealing digital mobile radio (DMR) IP developed by Motorola.

A 21-count federal indictment alleges that Hytera's modus operandi was to recruit employees of Motorola Solutions to access the company's internal databases and then pass on proprietary and trade secret information, even when still gainfully employed by the US firm.

Figure 1: The federal indictment accuses Hytera of using Motorola's IP to accelerate development and sales of its own DMR products. (Source: Bob Korn/Alamy Stock Photo) The federal indictment accuses Hytera of using Motorola's IP to accelerate development and sales of its own DMR products.
(Source: Bob Korn/Alamy Stock Photo)

Documents produced by the indictment also contain descriptions of emails (names redacted) apparently showing a desire by Motorola employees to snaffle as much IP and source code as possible before upping sticks and joining Hytera on much better remuneration packages. They are then accused of handing over the stolen information to their new employer in breach of signed non-disclosure agreements.

Hytera's aim, alleged the federal indictment, was to use Motorola's IP – developed "through years of research and design" – to accelerate development of its own DMR products, train Hytera employees, and then market and sell Hytera's DMR products internationally.

This conspiracy, the indictment claimed, lasted for a considerable length of time, from 2007 to 2020.

If convicted, Hytera faces a potential criminal fine of three times the value of the stolen trade secret to the company, including expenses for research, design, and other avoided costs.

See you in court

For its part, the Chinese tech firm said it "respectfully disagrees with the allegations," and plans to plead not guilty.

"The indictment purports to describe activities by former Motorola employees that occurred in Malaysia more than a decade ago. Hytera looks forward to pleading not guilty and telling its side of the story in court," the company said, as reported by Reuters. Hytera added it was "committed to honoring the intellectual property rights of others."

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Mark Hacker, Motorola's executive vice president and general counsel, claimed the charges against Hytera "underscore the calculated and deliberate character" of the Chinese company's illegal conduct.

Hytera is among a clutch of Chinese tech firms prevented from receiving new equipment licenses in the US on the grounds of perceived security risk. Others include Huawei and ZTE, as well as Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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