The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has formally charged Huawei in a complex conspiracy to steal trade secrets from technology companies to expand its own business.
「The misappropriated intellectual property included trade secret information and copyrighted works, such as source code and user manuals for internet routers, antenna technology and robot testing technology,」 the press release says.
According to the charges, Huawei broke confidentiality agreements and recruited employees of other competitor companies, and once hired, directed them to misappropriate their former employers’ intellectual property. In addition to that, Huawei allegedly even offered a type of bonus reward program to its employees if they were able to obtain information from competitors, essentially paying them to spy on competitors, according to the indictment.
The examples of Huawei attempting to obtain trade secrets go back decades—beginning in 2000 and ending as recent as 2019. In one instance, a Huawei worker attended a 2004 trade show in Chicago, sporting a badge that listed his employee as 8220;Weihua, 8221; or Huawei spelled with its syllables reversed. The indictment says that the individual removed the cover from a networking device and took pictures of it. The company later said that the individual 8217;s actions were his own.
In another instance, the indictment claims that a Huawei engineer improperly used their badge to get into a competitor company 8217;s lab in 2013 and was able to take photos and gather other information before he was escorted out.
Huawei employees even allegedly stole actual items from companies in order to take measurements to be used for Huawei 8217;s advantage. In one example, a Huawei employee allegedly stole a robotic arm in 2013 and later returned it only after sending Huawei the information on the part.
The DOJ says that Huawei was successful in stealing these trade secrets, which opens up an entirely another issue that the company had an unfair competitive advantage in the industry.
Digital Trends reached out to Huawei to comment on the charges. We will update this story when we hear back.