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T-Mobile Suit Claims Huawei Stole Part of Tappy, Its Cellphone-Testing Robot

Huawei says there is some merit to those claims, noting that it fired two of the employees responsible.


T-Mobile filed suit against Huawei this week, alleging that the Chinese phone maker stole some of the carrier’s technology.

“Huawei abused its relationship as a phone handset supplier for T-Mobile to obtain access to T-Mobile’s robot and, in violation of several confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements, copied the robot’s specifications and stole parts, software, and other trade secrets,” T-Mobile said in the suit, which was filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Specifically, T-Mobile’s suit alleges that Huawei workers took part of Tappy, a robot that T-Mobile developed in 2006 to test cellphones. Tappy aims to mimic the types of presses that phone owners do on their phone on a daily basis.

T-Mobile, which declined to comment beyond the suit, is seeking monetary damages as well as an injunction barring Huawei from using its stolen intellectual property.

And in a rather unusual move for litigation, Huawei acknowledged some of T-Mobile’s allegations, while saying that it is “regretful that this has become a matter of litigation.”

“There is some truth to the complaint in terms of two Huawei employees acting inappropriately in their zeal to better understand a customer’s quality testing requirements,” Huawei spokesman Bill Plummer said in a statement. “As a result, those employees were terminated for violating Huawei’s Business Conduct Guidelines. As for the rest of the complaint, Huawei respects T-Mobile’s right to file suit and we will cooperate fully with any investigation and court proceeding to protect our rights and interests.”

In its suit, T-Mobile notes that it has ceased getting phones from Huawei, a move that has cost it tens of millions of dollars.

“Due to Huawei’s material breaches of its contracts with T-Mobile, and its unlawful theft of trade secrets, T-Mobile was forced to stop its ongoing handset supply relationship with Huawei at substantial cost,” T-Mobile said.

For Huawei, the revelations come at a tough time, as the company seeks to build its phone business, and to convince governments and businesses around the world that it is a trustworthy business and not an arm of the Chinese government. In the U.S., the company has been able to sell some handsets, but has been unable to sell its broader network equipment portfolio amid government concerns.

The company has been emphasizing the amount of resources it devotes to innovation, noting that it spent $5 billion on research and development, with 70,000 of its 150,000 workers devoted to the cause.

Here is a copy of T-Mobile’s lawsuit, which makers for some pretty good reading:

T-Mobile vs Huawei Suit by inafried

This article originally appeared on

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