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US prosecutors file criminal charges against Chinese professor for stealing trade secrets for Huawei

US prosecutors file criminal charges against Chinese professor for stealing trade secrets for Huawei

Huawei has accused the US government of trying to discredit the company. US prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Chinese professor Bo Mao in Texas for allegedly stealing technology from a California-based company to benefit Huawei. Professor Mao was arrested in Texas on 14 August, but was released a few days later on $100,000 bond

US prosecutors file criminal charges against a Chinese professor for stealing trade secrets for Huawei

Huawei has accused the US government of trying to discredit the company.

US prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Chinese professor Bo Mao in Texas for allegedly stealing technology from a California-based company to benefit Huawei.

Professor Mao was arrested in Texas on 14 August, but was released a few days later on $100,000 bond after he agreed to proceed with the case in New York.

On 28 August, he appeared in the US district court in Brooklyn, where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to “defraud a company headquartered in the Northern District of California”.

As per court documents, Mao had signed an agreement with the unanmed tech firm (thought to be CNEX Labs) to receive a circuit board for an academic research. But, he’s accused of violating the non-disclosure agreement by helping an unidentified Chinese telecoms firm (thought to be Huawei) to get hold of the technology of the American company.

Mao is accused of working with “Professor 1” at a “Texas University” to obtain device samples from a “victim company.”

Mao, a computer science professor at China’s Xiamen University, became a visiting faculty at the University of Texas, Arlington, in 2018. He first gained media attention during a civil case between Huawei and a technology firm CNEX Labs. The case was filed in a court in Texas in December 2017 by Huawei against CNEX and a former engineering manager, Yiren Huang. In its lawsuit, Huawei accused CNEX and Huang of stealing its trade secrets.

Huang, who had worked for the US Huawei subsidiary, resigned from the firm in 2013 and three days later he helped to start CNEX.

CNEX filed a counter suit in 2018, accusing Huawei of stealing its technology with the help of Bo Mao.

CNEX complained that Mao had promised not to provide details about its circuit board for solid-state drives to third parties, but he used the circuit board for a study backed by Huawei.

The civil case between Huawei and CNEX Labs ended in June this year with a “take nothing” judgment. Now, US prosecutors have revived the CNEX case, by filing wire fraud charges against Mao.

The FBI said it has email records, which show that Huawei and Mao were in regular contact with each as Mao tried to reverse engineer the CNEX circuit board.

However, Huawei has criticised the US government for what it views as a biased decision.

In a statement to Reuters, the company said that the US prosecutors are “charging forward with CNEX’s allegations” even though the civil case resulted in no damages against Huawei.

Huawei also said that the US government has been trying to discredit the company and wants to rein in its industry leadership.

In May, the US Commerce Department put Huawei in its “Entity List” after President Trump declared a national emergency over threats to US technology. The decision barred the Huawei from doing business with US firms without getting a special license from the US government.

Following the ban, Google announced that it was withdrawing Huawei’s Android OS licence. Intel, Qualcomm and other American tech firms also stopped supplying the Chinese firm with components.

The US government later announced that it had decided to relax the ban by granting Huawei a new 90-day licence to operate in the US.

Despite that relaxation, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei admitted that US sanctions will hit his company harder and will cut revenues by about $30 billion.

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Susan E. Lopez
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