Federal prosecutors have filed suit against Huawei, the largest smartphone maker in China, on allegations of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile and violating sanctions against doing business in Iran.
Prosecutors filed a pair of indictments in federal court in recent weeks that were unsealed Monday — one in Washington state and one in New York — against Huawei, the latest development in a broader U.S. crackdown against the Chinese company. The Washington indictment comes nearly two years after a jury awarded T-Mobile $4.8 million in damages in a long-running trade secrets dispute centered around a smartphone testing robot that Bloomberg reports caught the eye of federal authorities.
The case dates back to 2014, when T-Mobile filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleging Huawei stole designs and parts of the company’s top secret cell phone testing robot, nicknamed “Tappy.” The robot is designed to simulate the touch of a human finger, so that T-Mobile can test devices that it plans to carry, helping to develop maintenance plans and find ways to lower device return costs.
The jury found that Huawei misappropriated Tappy but didn’t do it in a “willful and malicious” manner. But the jury also said T-Mobile didn’t suffer major losses due to the misappropriation of Tappy and declined to award T-Mobile the $500 million in punitive damages it was seeking.
The New York indictment includes several counts related to bank fraud and wire fraud and accuse Huawei of doing business with Iran in a way that violated sanctions. One of the defendants named in the indictment, Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng, was arrested Dec. 1 in Vancouver B.C. The U.S. is now seeking to extradite Meng.
Here is the full Washington indictment:
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