US DOJ indicts Huawei for theft of trade secrets, wire fraud

Security & Defense

The United States of America (USA) Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted Huawei Device Co., Ltd. and Huawei Device Co. USA for theft of trade secrets conspiracy, attempted theft of trade secrets, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice.

According to the charges, in 2012 Huawei began a concerted effort to steal information on a T-Mobile phone-testing robot dubbed “Tappy.”

“In an effort to build their own robot to test phones before they were shipped to T-Mobile and other wireless carriers, Huawei engineers violated confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with T-Mobile by secretly taking photos of “Tappy,” taking measurements of parts of the robot, and in one instance, stealing a piece of the robot so that the Huawei engineers in China could try to replicate it,” US DOJ said in a news release.

“After T-Mobile discovered and interrupted these criminal activities, and then threatened to sue, Huawei produced a report falsely claiming that the theft was the work of rogue actors within the company and not a concerted effort by Huawei corporate entities in the United States and China,” it added.


The US DOJ said as emails obtained in the course of the investigation reveal, the conspiracy to steal secrets from T-Mobile was a company-wide effort involving many engineers and employees within the two charged companies. 

“As part of its investigation, FBI obtained emails revealing that in July 2013, Huawei offered bonuses to employees based on the value of information they stole from other companies around the world, and provided to Huawei via an encrypted email address,” it noted.

“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.  “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.”