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T-Mobile Accuses Huawei of Espionage

Sarah Thomas
9/9/2014

Huawei has found itself in trouble in the US again, this time as the subject in a lawsuit from T-Mobile, which alleges the Chinese vendor stole technology from its Bellevue, Wash., headquarters.

T-Mobile US Inc. filed suit against Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. last week in Seattle, claiming that its employees snuck into a T-Mobile lab in the 2012-2013 time frame and stole parts of its smartphone testing robot Tappy. [Ed. Note: Wouldn't that be kidnapping?]

The employees then copied operating software and design details, violating confidentiality agreements that both companies signed, T-Mobile alleges of its former supplier. And, it says, Huawei is now using that intel to build its own testing robot.


Want to know more about mobile technologies in the telecom industry? Check out Light Reading's dedicated mobile content channel.


A Huawei spokesman tells the New York Times that there is some truth to the complaint, but that the two employees involved have been fired. T-Mobile has since stopped working with Huawei, which T-Mobile says could cost it tens of millions of dollars as it moves away from its handsets.

This isn't the first time Huawei has come under fire in the US for unethical practices, and it's certainly not the first time companies have warred over intellectual property. (See Huawei Names US Lead, Reminds Us It's Still Here and NSA Reportedly Spying on Huawei: What's Chinese for 'Ironic'? )

For more on past legal scuffles, here is just a sampling of Light Reading's past coverage:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Vital Applications
Vital Applications
9/29/2016 | 6:26:59 AM
Re: Huawei is known for Cut and Paste engineering
Hello Humancost, I am interested to learn more of your experience as described in this post. Is there a way to reach you discretely? Many thanks.
Humancost
Humancost
6/8/2015 | 7:24:25 AM
Huawei is known for Cut and Paste engineering
I worked for Huawei in Europe for 4 years. I was the Head og IT for a department in Munich. I worked in the European reasearch center. It was known that anything you could steal an idea it was accepitble in Chinese business culture. I saw this happen internally as well.
Kruz
Kruz
9/11/2014 | 3:10:24 AM
Re: Paging Paul Blart
I am interested to know what type of test T-Mo runs for the smartphones; are these HW tests of SW tests as well? 
nasimson
nasimson
9/10/2014 | 9:48:56 AM
Chinese work ethics
This story is so interesting that a Hollywood movie can be made out of it. Cellular companies have a love hate relationship with Chinese vendors. They love their price but hate their work ethics.
mendyk
mendyk
9/10/2014 | 9:03:14 AM
Re: Paging Paul Blart
I'm all for relativism, but I'm pretty sure that taking physical property that doesn't belong to you without the owner's permission is a no-no pretty much across the cultural board. But the fact that this incident has escalated to the point of legal action seems a bit over the top. Maybe there's more to the story than snatching poor Tappy's arm.
kq4ym
kq4ym
9/10/2014 | 8:50:16 AM
Re: Paging Paul Blart
Where there's the possibility of theft, someone's going to take advantage of it. This probably's the scene here. Of course one might argue that there might be varying degrees of what's considered "right" and "wrong" in international business too. What might be considered appropriate in gaining a competitive advantage in one country might be slightly difference somewhere else. And who's to say American companys are totally innocent in the corporate espionage business?
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
9/9/2014 | 3:11:40 PM
Re: Paging Paul Blart
And wouldn't you want your handset partner to have a better way to test its phones? Or maybe T-Mo was trying to catch mistakes it couldn't, sorta like throwing cans on the floor to get a discount on dented ones.
mendyk
mendyk
9/9/2014 | 1:57:56 PM
Re: Paging Paul Blart
Which leads to another question -- do you really need a secret robot to test smartphones?
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
9/9/2014 | 1:56:08 PM
Re: Paging Paul Blart
Poor armless Tappy. He never saw it coming.
mendyk
mendyk
9/9/2014 | 1:54:14 PM
Paging Paul Blart
Wow -- security at the T-Mobile lab must be just a little less than airtight.
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