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Tech Times - T-Mobile sues Huawei

Published:Monday | September 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM

T-Mobile USA claims Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies stole its software, specifications and other secrets for a cellphone-testing robot nicknamed "Tappy" - and it's not happy.

In a lawsuit filed September 2 in federal court in Seattle, T-Mobile says employees of the world's third-largest mobile-phone supplier illicitly photographed the device, tried to smuggle components out of T-Mobile's lab, and when banned from the Seattle-area facility, tried to sneak back in.

Huawei, which is no longer a T-Mobile phone supplier, utilized the information to build its own testing robot, and now is "using T-Mobile's stolen robot technology to test non-T-Mobile handsets and improve return rates for handsets developed and sold to other carriers," says the suit.

A Huawei spokesman acknowledged some inappropriate actions by two company employees and said they'd been fired. Huawei rejects the broader claims in the suit, however.

T-Mobile claims that in 2007, it was the first to debut a robot to test cellphone handsets "by performing touches on the phone the same way a human being would - only much more frequently in a shorter period of time." By reducing the cost of testing and improving the diagnostic data, the device has helped T-Mobile get more reliable handsets from its suppliers, the company says.

The suit offers a detailed chronology of the claimed spying in 2012 and 2013, including a Huawei engineer allegedly slipping into his laptop bag one of the robot's simulated fingertips. The company "ultimately admitted that its employees misappropriated parts and information about T-Mobile's robot," says the suit.

T-Mobile doesn't specify the damages it is seeking, but claims that because of Huawei's industrial espionage, it had to spend "at least tens of millions of dollars" switching to other handsets. The suit also claims Huawei profited from using the robot testing technology to improve its phones, "gains that are estimated to benefit Huawei by hundreds of millions of dollars."

Huawei spokesman William Plummer said the company regrets the episode has turned into a lawsuit.

"There is some truth to the complaint in terms of two Huawei employees acting inappropriately in their zeal to better understand the customer's quality testing requirements," he said. "As a result, those employees were terminated for violating our business conduct guidelines. As for the rest of the complaint, Huawei respects T-Mobile's right to file suit and we will cooperate fully with any investigation or court proceeding to protect our rights and interests."

A statement from the company says its employees had been trying to resolve discrepancies in results between T-Mobile's testing and its own robot tester, which T-Mobile knew Huawei had built.

Huawei has been dogged by allegations of intellectual property theft, and in 2012 a US congressional panel recommended telephone companies avoid doing business with it, citing concerns about its links to the Chinese government. In most of the world, however, its products are widely deployed by major telecommunications companies.

Motorola unveils new Moto X, Moto G smartphones


Motorola is taking aim at the more-affordable smartphone market with new versions of its Moto X flagship Android smartphone and the lower-cost Moto G.

The Moto X sports a 5.2-inch 1080p full HD display. It has a 13-megapixel camera and a new ring flash that Motorola says provides more balanced light. It can capture 4K Ultra HD video.

Under the hood is a 2.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

It lands later this month for US$499 off-contract in the US. Motorola did not release carrier details but says it will be available for as low as US$99 with a two-year contract. (As a point of comparison, Samsung's flagship Galaxy S5 goes more than US$600 off-contract in the US)

The new Moto G, with a 5-inch 720p HD display, a lesser processor, 8-megapixel camera and stereo speakers on the front, is available today starting at just US$179.99 unlocked. It comes in a black or white front; you can swap out the back with colorful shells. The new Moto G adds a slot for a micro SD card.

As with its predecessor, the look of the high-end Moto X is customizable through Motorola's Moto Maker online design studio. Motorola is adding new colors and materials including eco-friendly woods and new leather finishes.

As you'd expect, the makeover ups many of the specs of the first generation Moto X, which had a 4.7-inch, 720p HD screen, a 10-megapixel camera and started around US$599 without a contract.

That first Moto X launched about a year ago as the first flagship since Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility in 2012. This past January, Google agreed to sell Motorola Mobility to Lenovo in a US$2.9 billion deal expected to close by the end of the year. Lenovo is a small player in the US smartphone market but its handsets sell well internationally.

Motorola says the Moto G is its best-selling smartphone ever and is the current best-selling phone in Brazil.

Both the new Moto X and Moto G run the latest KitKat version of "pure Android" - basically, Google's own take on its mobile operating system.

Among new features in the Moto X are enhanced voice controls that allow you to interact with the phone without touching it, a hallmark of the first version of the phone.

September is a big month for smartphones. Samsung just unveiled new oversized Note handsets, including the Note Edge, with a separate curved display alongside the right edge. And Microsoft added to its Lumia portfolio with its own new "affordable flagship" in the Nokia 830, which will be priced about US$430 without a contract when it arrives in the US. Microsoft also has two other new Lumias aimed at the budget market.

And looming large on Tuesday: Apple, which will take the wraps off its newest iPhone.