Justice Department charges Huawei with stealing trade secrets, again

Plus conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The US Justice Department has charged Huawei and two US subsidiaries with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to steal trade secrets. A 16-count superseding indictment, filed yesterday in Brooklyn, New York, adds to previous US charges filed against Huawei last January. The indictment names several defendants, including Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Wanzhou Meng, who is already facing fraud accusations and could serve years in prison.

These new charges allege that Huawei has run a decades-long attempt to steal intellectual property from six specific but unnamed US companies. Huawei allegedly got its hands on trade secrets and copyrighted work by entering into and then breaking confidentiality agreements, recruiting employees from competitors and using professors as proxies. Huawei even offered bonuses to employees who obtained confidential information from competitors.

According to the indictment, Huawei successfully obtained confidential information on internet router source code, cellular antenna technology and robotics. That allowed the company to cut its research and development costs and achieve a competitive edge. Then, defendants allegedly gave misstatements to US officials investigating the intellectual property thefts.

To make matters worse, the Department of Justice and FBI charged Huawei with aiding the North Korean and Iranian governments with domestic surveillance. These charges will undoubtedly make the already strained US-Huawei relationship even more tense.