Huawei's Efforts to Steal Apple Trade Secrets Include Employee Bonus Program and Other Dubious Tactics

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 18, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Last month, the United States Justice Department announced a series of criminal charges against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei for stealing trade secrets, bank fraud, wire fraud, and obstructing justice. Today, The Information has shed light on Huawei's tactics of stealing trade secrets, some of which were aimed at Apple.


    According to today's report, a Huawei engineer in charge of the company's smartwatch project tracked down a supplier that makes the heart rate sensor for the Apple Watch. The Huawei engineer arranged a meeting, suggesting he was offering the supplier a lucrative manufacturing contract, but during the meeting his main intent was questioning the supplier about the Apple Watch.
    This event reportedly reflects "a pattern of dubious tactics" performed by Huawei to obtain technology from rivals, particularly Apple's China-based suppliers. According to a Huawei spokesperson the company has not been in the wrong: "In conducting research and development, Huawei employees must search and use publicly available information and respect third-party intellectual property per our business-conduct guidelines."

    According to the U.S. Justice Department, Huawei is said to have a formal program that rewards employees for stealing information, including bonuses that increase based on the confidential value of the information gathered. While the theft of trade secrets is nothing new among technology companies, the new allegations against Huawei represent "a more brazen and elaborate system of seeking out secret information," The Information reports.

    Huawei's information gathering program led to incidents like the Huawei engineer probing a supplier for Apple Watch details, as well as Huawei copying a component of the MacBook Pro. Specifically, the company built a connector for its MateBook Pro that was just like the one used in Apple's MacBook Pro from 2016, allowing the computer's hinge to be thinner while still attaching the display to the logic board.

    Huawei reportedly approached numerous suppliers and provided them with schematics just like Apple's, but most recognized the part and refused to make it for Huawei. The company told The Information that it requires suppliers to uphold a high standard of ethics and that it doesn't seek or have access to its competitor's confidential information. Eventually, Huawei found a willing supplier and the connector was built into the MateBook Pro.

    The Information's report includes numerous other examples of Huawei's attempts at stealing information from Apple. One former Apple employee interviewed for a job at Huawei immediately after leaving Apple, and in the interview, Huawei executives repeatedly asked questions about Apple's upcoming products. "It was clear they were more interested in trying to learn about Apple than they were in hiring me," the former employee said.

    Huawei's indictments extend far beyond Apple, including an accusation of bank and wire fraud against chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, lying to the government, destroying documents, and attempting to move key Huawei employees back to China to impede the U.S. Justice Department investigation. Another indictment accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud, and obstructing justice for stealing robotic technology from T-Mobile U.S. for testing smartphone durability.

    Article Link: Huawei's Efforts to Steal Apple Trade Secrets Include Employee Bonus Program and Other Dubious Tactics
  2. KPandian1, Feb 18, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019

    KPandian1 macrumors 65816

    Oct 22, 2013
    But, I read posts from Huawei fans here about how much they spend on research and how they have hundreds of thousands of patents. That their products are the best in the PC world.

    Why would they "need" to steal from the USA firms?:rolleyes:
  3. igneousc macrumors regular

    May 13, 2011
    They're such an absolutely disgusting company that should never be allowed to sell products in this country. Xiaomi and all the other Chinese OEMs are right behind them too. I understand wanting to save some money on a device, but I'll never understand buying one of those products to give up essentially all your privacy and supporting horrible practices.
  4. I7guy macrumors P6


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    That's how Apple's backdoor is broken into. Go to the suppliers, bribe them, and get info. They got caught and let's see where this goes.
  5. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    This happens a lot throughout the tech industry, actually.
  6. mi7chy, Feb 18, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019

    mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
  7. DNichter, Feb 18, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019

    DNichter macrumors G3


    Apr 27, 2015
    Philadelphia, PA
    I thought this was public knowledge? I am sure they all do this, but that doesn't make it okay. Coupled with their insane privacy policy, it always surprises me when people on this site point to Huawei as a legit option in tech. I wouldn't trust them with my email address, let alone anything else I keep on my phone.
  8. dazed macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
    This has happened in business from the very beginning. Not just Chinese companies.
  9. Bin Cook macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2018
    Everyone is doing it to everybody, but great excuse for some racist tub thumping.
  10. givemeanapple macrumors Demi-God


    Oct 2, 2016
    Not defending Huawei but we believe in third party reports now? What about reports about Apple's own servers hacked? Even if China would find a cure for cancer, US government would say it would steal your blood cells when used.
  11. magicschoolbus macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2014
    China wouldn’t exist in the shape its in today without its corporate espionage.
  12. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    Yet when anyone ever says a cross (or even a skeptical) word about Huawei the zealots always scream that we're just being xenophobes.
  13. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    Their privacy rules are nonexistent so this isn’t a surprise.
  14. niji Contributor


    Feb 9, 2003
    there are two ways to get info from suppliers (other than hack or steal it from suppliers)

    1 the china and taiwan model
    ask a lot of questions. keep asking questions. continue to ask questions during drinks.
    eventually they are told something about "the substrate is applied at -2Kelvin"

    2 the USAmerican model
    ask a question in passing. see if your business associate of 12 years voluntarily reveals anything.
    later ask the same question, again in a light hearted manner, and your business associate will tell you something about "the substrate is applied at -2Kelvin".

    different? yes.
    in the 1st model the employee gets a reward for bringing back the info.
    in the 2nd model the employee is standing in the company kitchen and tells someone in a different department, and gets his coffee.
  15. macfacts macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2012
    Remember when Steve went to jail for stealing from Xerox? I don't remember that either.
  16. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    “Because everybody does it” is not an excuse, and there is a real problem when businesses are based in two very different nations with different views on IP and different government oversight, hence the trade war. Some parts of the world don’t put much value in IP, and China has been slow to protect it.
  17. BvizioN macrumors 601


    Mar 16, 2012
    Manchester, UK
    I was wondering the same! Is it reverse engineering really that hard on these products?
  18. MEJHarrison macrumors 65816

    Feb 2, 2009
    Just because it happens is no excuse to let Huawei off the hook, or anyone else accused of doing such things.
  19. dennislaska macrumors member


    Sep 22, 2012
    That's what I say. Big whip!

    Apple steals all the time..
    --- Post Merged, Feb 18, 2019 ---
  20. Col4bin macrumors 68000


    Oct 2, 2011
    El Segundo
    There's a reason this company was not allowed in the U.S...
    --- Post Merged, Feb 18, 2019 ---
    Everyone else might be doing it, but they're one of the biggest. Doesn't make it right.
  21. HJM.NL macrumors 68010


    Jul 25, 2016
    People go Huawei because it offers so much more value for money and went from a follower to a leader. This film just clarifies it very well.
  22. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    I think that Huawei doesn't do anything without the Chinese government approval.

    Maybe Apple can trick Huawei into stealing the butterfly keyboard from the MacBook Pro. That should set them back a few years :).
  23. H3LL5P4WN macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2010
    Pittsburgh PA
    More evidence to never buy a trash product from that trash company.
  24. Baymowe335 macrumors 68040

    Oct 6, 2017
    And this is the company that makes "great phones" and is "no different" than Apple with iOS. :rolleyes:

    I wouldn't put a device made my Huawei in my home or even trust them with my phone number.
  25. Sedulous macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2002
    Erm, actually Xerox invited Apple to use the technology. Not saying Apple has never taken anything but at least use a legit example.

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