Huawei is now being criminally investigated over allegedly stealing trade secrets, this stems from a civil case involving T-Mobile back in 2014.
The case originally was involving T-Mobile and robotic technology that the company uses to test phones in its laboratories. The report, which comes out of The Wall Street Journal notes that in one instance, two Huawei employees slipped another into the lab, and took unauthorized photos of the robot. It also notes that one employee tried to hide the fingerlike tip of the robot behind a computer monitor so that the security cameras could not see, and then sneak it out in a bag.
Huawei, of course, fought this lawsuit with T-Mobile, saying that nothing was stolen. T-Mobile eventually won the lawsuit and was awarded $4.8 million, in 2017. Nearly three years after the lawsuit was filed.
There's not a lot of information currently available about the current case that federal prosecutors are working on, against Huawei. This is because the case has not been formally announced, and no charges have been filed either. Though, sources inside the FBI are expecting that indictments will be coming down soon.
This comes at a not-so-great time for Huawei in the US. Over the past year or so, the Huawei and the US have been at odds. And lately, things have been turned up a notch. On December 1, the company's CFO was arrested in Vancouver during a layover. The arrest was over Huawei's violation of US sanctions with Iran and North Korea. She was eventually released on bail, but is expected back in court soon. Then just last week, another Huawei executive was arrested in Poland, on espionage charges. Now we have Huawei being investigated for stealing trade secrets.
Stealing trade secrets should not be a huge surprise when it comes to Huawei. Chinese companies are known for stealing these trade secrets and intellectual property, and this is largely because the Chinese don't believe in patents. This is a big reason why you see so many iPhone-clones in China, because it doesn't care about intellectual property or IP.
The case with T-Mobile from 2014 may not seem like that big of a deal. It's a robot that T-Mobile uses for phone testing, okay, what's the big deal. But there's a broader play here. If Huawei was looking to steal that robot, what else did they or could they have stolen while working with US companies. T-Mobile is not the only carrier that Huawei has worked with. It also worked with – though for a short time – Verizon and AT&T. Ultimately the deals with those two carriers to sell the Mate 10 Pro last year fell through, but the phone was tested on their networks. Huawei also works with some of the biggest names in tech: Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm.
Huawei's reputation in the US is going from bad to worse. And it is very unlikely that even if Huawei is able to get all of this cleared up, that it'll be back in the US anytime soon.