What just happened? Huawei's battle with the United States government is reportedly about to take a new turn, with federal prosecutors preparing a criminal indictment against the Chinese tech giant for stealing trade secrets from American partners.
It found that Huawei misappropriated T-Mobile's trade secrets and breached a supply contract between the two companies, saying T-Mobile should get US$4.8 million in damages. During that time, three Huawei employees are said to have taken unsolicited photos of a T-Mobile robot (nicknamed "Tappy") that was used for quality control tests on smartphones.
The investigation is at an advanced stage and an indictment could come soon, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
T-Mobile alleged in a 2014 lawsuit, filed in federal court in Seattle, that Huawei employees stole technology relating to a smartphone-testing robot T-Mobile had in a lab in Bellevue, Washington.
Although Huawei lost the case, the jury reportedly didn't find Huawei's misappropriation as "willful and malicious" as T-Mobile alleged.
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The tensions come amid a backdrop of President Donald Trump's efforts to get more manufacturing on U.S. soil and slap hefty tariffs on Chinese goods for what he claims are unfair trade practices by Beijing.
A bipartisan group of USA lawmakers introduced bills on Wednesday that would ban the sale of US chips or other components to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, ZTE Corp or other Chinese telecommunications companies that violate USA sanctions or export control laws.
The latest allegation could deepen the trade rift between China and the United States and put further pressure on Huawei, which is at the centre of suspicions that its equipment allows China to monitor sensitive communications.
Huawei is the world's biggest producer of telecommunications equipment.
Last week, Poland arrested a local Huawei executive and a former intelligence official on allegations of spying for China. Both have also been accused of failing to respect USA sanctions on Iran.
If Chinese telecommunications companies like Huawei violate USA regulations, they should be sanctioned. As part of the agreement, the US lifted a ban in place since April that had prevented ZTE from buying the USA components it relies on heavily to make smartphones and other devices.