Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies has been accused in court of stealing technology from a T-Mobile laboratory. The lawsuit accuses employees of Huawei of illicitly obtaining access to a T-Mobile laboratory in Bellevue, Washington and violating confidentiality agreements signed by the two companies by stealing parts of a smartphone testing robot, operating software and design details. Huawei was previously a T-Mobile supplier.
The incidents listed in the lawsuit occurred during 2012 and 2013. One of the employees was caught on camera placing stolen robot parts into a laptop bag when leaving the laboratory. T-Mobile began using the robot in 2007 to test smartphones using the same motions that a human would use. T-Mobile accuses Huawei of using the stolen technology to build its own testing robot.
A spokesman for Huawei admitted that two employees of the company had acted inappropriately with respect to T-Mobile’s laboratory and have been relieved of their employment positions. The spokesman for Huawei said that the company would cooperate with the investigation. However, this is not the first time that the company has faced these types of accusations.
In 2012, a bipartisan report issued by a committee in United States House of Representatives named Huawei as a potential national security threat. The company received that designation due to its perceived loyalties to the Chinese government and from documented attempts at obtaining sensitive and proprietary information from companies in the United States. The company has had great difficulty breaking into American markets due to the designation, but has seen great success in its contracts in Europe and in emerging markets.
T-Mobile filed the lawsuit in a Seattle court, not far from the company’s Bellevue headquarters and the laboratory where the theft took place. The amount of damages being sought in the lawsuit was not disclosed. Behind Samsung and Apple, Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone maker.
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