T-Mobile US lobs sueball at Huawei: Claims Chinese giant stole robot tech

Lawsuit alleges Huawei staff tried to sneak into T-Mobile's offices after they were banned


T-Mobile US has filed a suit accusing Huawei of stealing the tech behind its mobile phone testing robot, nicknamed “Tappy”.

The carrier claims that Huawei employees, who were authorised to to use the robot for testing, allegedly stole the software and specs for the ‘bot, including illicit photos of the machine at work, to help their employer build its own version. The firm also claims Huawei workers attempted to smuggle components for Tappy out of the T-Mobile lab in Bellevue, Washington, before being banned from the facility.

T-Mobile is suing the Chinese company for the theft of its trade secrets, violating non-disclosure agreements and allegedly profiting from said information.

“T-Mobile entered into at least three separate contracts that barred Huawei from misappropriating trade secrets and that otherwise required Huawei to keep T-Mobile’s information confidential,” the company said in a court filing.

“T-Mobile’s robot, its component parts, its functionality, and its software were protected by these nondisclosure and confidentiality contracts. Huawei employees were only authorised to use the robot to test their T-Mobile handsets in T-Mobile’s labs, and were prohibited from disclosing or using information regarding the robot for any other purpose.”

The carrier alleges in the filing that Huawei’s employees were caught on camera stealing parts of the robot and recording and copying specs.

“On information and belief, Huawei is already using T-Mobile’s stolen robot technology to test non-T-Mobile handsets and improve return rates for handsets developed and sold to other carriers,” the filing alleged.

T-Mobile didn’t put a figure on the damages it wants from Huawei in the suit, but it claims that the alleged corporate espionage has cost it millions of dollars and helped earn Huawei further hundreds of millions.

“Because of Huawei’s material breach of the parties’ agreements, T-Mobile was forced to cancel planned Huawei handset purchases and is therefore also entitled to the costs and consequential damages of replacing Huawei as an ongoing supplier of handsets in T-Mobile’s product line – a cost that is at least tens of millions of dollars,” the court filing claimed.

“T-Mobile is additionally entitled to the actual damages it has suffered and any of Huawei’s unjust gains from its theft of T-Mobile’s valuable and innovative technology – gains that are currently estimated to benefit Huawei by hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Huawei had not returned a request for comment at the time of publication. ®

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