Motorola sues Huawei over base-station trade secret theft

Motorola sues Huawei over base-station trade secret theft

Summary: Motorola is suing Huawei for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets, according to an amended complaint filed in a US district court on 16 July.According to Motorola's original complaint, five of its former employees had been passing on trade secrets to a wireless technology competitor called Lemko, itself set up by people who had been working for Motorola at the time.

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TOPICS: Telcos
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Motorola is suing Huawei for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets, according to an amended complaint filed in a US district court on 16 July.

According to Motorola's original complaint, five of its former employees had been passing on trade secrets to a wireless technology competitor called Lemko, itself set up by people who had been working for Motorola at the time. The trade secrets in question covered technologies such as GSM, UMTS, WiMax and push-to-talk.

However, in the amended complaint, Motorola said it had learned that the defendants had been secretly working for the Chinese manufacturer Huawei, a major competitor to Motorola.

According to the complaint, Lemko and Huawei had written an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) Agreement document, laying out a formal business relationship to develop and make a technology referred to variously as a 'distributed mobile architecture' (DMA) and a 'control and soft switch element' (CASSE).

"There is at least part of an email chain that has been recovered that confirms that Defendant Shaowei Pan, at Huawei’s request, transmitted proprietary and confidential Motorola specifications for the Motorola SC300 base station to [Huawei founder] Ren Zhengfei and JinLong Hou, Huawei’s vice president of wireless communications, in March 2003 and that a meeting and an agreement for the transfer of Motorola proprietary information did in fact take place in Beijing during the China trip in February-March 2003," the complaint read.

"Both Lemko and Huawei are now marketing and selling DMA/CASSE cellular 'solutions' in separate channels [...] All of these Lemko/Huawei 'solutions' and 'products' can be traced back to the same all-IP and/or soft-switching characteristics of the Motorola Seamless Mobility technology and the proprietary SC300 microcell BTS in 2001 when the Lemko/Huawei relationship was secretly formed."

Huawei has had IP-related problems in the US before. In 2003, Cisco sued the company — set up by People's Liberation Army veteran Ren in 1988 — for using its source code in Huawei routers.

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • We've had a reply from Huawei now:

    We are disappointed by Motorola's effort to bring our firm into an existing legal action between Motorola and its former employees. We are currently in the process of vigorously responding to the allegations and are fully confident that Huawei's interests will be protected.

    The relationship between Huawei and Lemko is nothing more than a reseller arrangement. Huawei has never been part of the relationship or dispute between Motorola and Lemko.
    Huawei is one of the leading intellectual property owners in our industry and that is why we have great respect for the rights of intellectual property holders.

    As a leading global company in the telecommunications industry, Huawei's success has been based on our long-term commitment to customer-centric innovation and business values.
    David Meyer