Chinese tech company Huawei charged with stealing secrets from T-Mobile

Alleged crimes took place at phone company’s Bellevue lab.

Supposed stolen information on replicating “Tappy,” a T-Mobile robot housed in Bellevue and used to test cell phones, has led to a 10-count grand jury indictment against Huawei, a Chinese-based telecoms giant with offices in the Seattle region.

“As I told Chinese officials in August, China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law,” said Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker, in a news release. “I’d like to thank the many dedicated criminal investigators from several different federal agencies who contributed to this investigation and the Department of Justice attorneys who are moving the prosecution efforts forward. They are helping us uphold the rule of law with integrity.”

The charges, unsealed Monday, Jan. 28, are the latest installment of action taken against the technology company and follow a T-Mobile lawsuit filed in 2014. A jury awarded the phone company $4.8 million in 2017 over stolen trade secrets.

T-Mobile declined to comment for this story. Huawei could not be reached for comment.

According to indictment paperwork, in 2012 Huawei began a concerted effort to steal information on a T-Mobile phone-testing robot “Tappy” in an attempt to construct their own similar device. The robot was used to test cell phones before being shipped out to customers and was housed in T-Mobile’s Bellevue Device Lab. It could simulate numerous weeks of cell phone use in a 72-hour period, according to reports.

Huawei, a phone manufacturer and seller, entered into a supply agreement with T-Mobile in June 2010, to provide them wireless phones, the indictment states. In 2011, Huawei began to supply phones, marketed and sold by T-Mobile. In 2012, T-Mobile gave Huawei engineers access to “Tappy” to test their devices.

Huawei Device Co., Ltd. and Huawei Device Co. USA are now charged with theft of trade secrets conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

Full story available online.

Conspiracy and attempt to commit trade secret theft is punishable by a fine of up to $5 million or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, whichever is greater. Wire fraud and obstruction of justice are punishable by a fine of up to $500,000.

“This indictment shines a bright light on Huawei’s flagrant abuse of the law — especially its efforts to steal valuable intellectual property from T-Mobile to gain unfair advantage in the global marketplace,” said first assistant U.S. attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington, in a news release. “We look forward to presenting the evidence of Huawei’s crimes in a court of law, and proving our case beyond a reasonable doubt. Fair competition and respect for the rule of law is essential to the functioning of our international economic system.”

More in News

The Snoqualmie Valley YMCA, built in 2011, could receive a 22,000 square foot expansion that would add an aquatics facility. File Photo
Snoqualmie explores expanding its community center

The project could cost between $12.5 to $16 million depending on features.

Pushing the limits of public comment; Snoqualmie council questions candidate’s methods

Donaldson uses video of his speeches during open comments for videos appearing on his website.

North Bend continues development push as water situation remains unclear

A recent decision means parcel marked for development was removed from Sallal’s service area.

Document logs highlight record requests from citizens in and around Snoqualmie

Public record request logs show what Snoqualmie residents really want to know.

King County’s Prop. 1 parks levy is passing

Initial results from the Aug. 6 primary King County Council races are also in.

King County Elections released preliminary primary election results Tuesday night. Madeline Coats/staff photo
Incumbent Ross and Armstrong lead city council race

1,429 ballots were returned out of 8,078 registered voters in Snoqualmie.

McFarland leading in the primary race for North Bend mayor

Primary results show Mary Miller and Darren Glazier likely to move on in city council race.

Dariel Norris and Gene Pollard leading in Public Hospital District 4 Pos. 2 race

Primary results show race is close between the three candidates.

A consultant working with store owner in downtown Renton. In 2018, Renton hosted a several workshops called “Creating Stellar Storefronts” funded through the Economic Development Partnership program. Courtesy of the Port of Seattle
Port of Seattle grants fund economic development across the Eastside

2019 Port of Seattle funding supports economic development projects in Eastside cities.