T-Mobile Accusing Huawei Of Stealing Phone-Testing Robot Tech

September 5, 2014 - Written By Nick Terry

In the technology world lawsuits are filed almost daily, most of the time for foolish reasons, but this lawsuit actually has quite an interesting story behind it. On September 2nd, only days ago, T-Mobile filed a lawsuit against phone manufacturer Huawei for supposedly “using T-Mobile’s stolen robot technology to test non-T-Mobile handsets and improve return rates for handsets developed and sold to other carriers”. In other words, Huawei stole phone-testing technology from T-Mobile and used it for their own phone testing. You may be asking yourself at this point, how did Huawei steal T-Mobile technology? Well here’s where it gets interesting. In the lawsuit filed by T-Mobile, they claim that Huawei sent employees as spies into their Bellevue lab to take photos of their phone-testing robot named “Tappy” and to also smuggle components back to Huawei’s HQ. Huawei supposedly decided to engage this spy operation after they realized how reliable and efficient “Tappy” the robot was at testing smartphones.

What this Tappy we keep referencing to does is test new smartphones by touching the phone in a way similar to a human, only more frequently. T-Mobile says that this testing from Tappy has allowed T-Mobile to improve its diagnostics data and also reduce the cost of testing devices. In fact, T-Mobile has said that benefits from Tappy are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Here is how Huawei has responded to the accusations made by T-Mobile: “There is some truth to the complaint in terms of two Huawei employees acting inappropriately in their zeal to better understand the customer’s quality testing requirements. As a result, those employees were terminated for violating our business conduct guidelines. As for the rest of the complaint, Huawei respects T-Mobile’s right to file suit and we will cooperate fully with any investigation or court proceeding to protect our rights and interests.” At the moment T-Mobile hasn’t made any requests in their lawsuit in reference to damages caused by the ordeal but the spying has supposedly forced them out of millions of dollars. On top of that, Huawei has been benefiting from the stolen Tappy technology, again, something T-Mobile estimates a value of hundreds of millions of dollars.