Huawei accused of stealing trade secrets

Telecoms and networking equipment firm Huawei is being sued by Motorola over allegations it stole trade secrets from its US competitor.

A complaint filed at a US court last Friday accuses the Chinese vendor of conspiring with former Motorola engineers to acquire onfidential information for a period of nearly ten years. Huawei denies the allegations.

The case is linked to a prior suit filed by Motorola firm two years ago involving Huawei reseller Lemko. In that case, Motorola sued five of its own former employees for allegedly exposing trade secrets to Lemko.

In its latest complaint, Motorola alleges that one its former engineers shared details of new technological developments directly with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

“Huawei and its officers knew they were receiving stolen Motorola proprietary trade secrets and confidential information without Motorola’s authorisation and consent,” the complaint read.

Huawei responded with the following statement: “The complaint is groundless and utterly without merit. Huawei will vigorously defend itself against baseless allegations.”

Earlier this year, news agency Reuters described Huawei as "arguably … China’s most successful company on the global stage". The company’s revenues grew 19% to $21.8 billion last year.

But with that growth has come closer scrutiny. Some confusion surrounds its structure and ownership – owner Zhengfei is a former officer in China’s People’s Liberation Army, while the company’s official stance is that Huawei is wholly-owned by its employees.

In May 2010, the Indian government demanded that Huawei and compatriot telecommunications equipment provider ZTE revealed who owned them, banning imports of their products until they do.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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