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.