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Huawei trade secrets trial kicks off, says report

A trial involving a former manager who allegedly stole Huawei secrets and poached employees has begun in Texas, a report says.

A Huawei logo at Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam

Huawei is accusing a former engineering manager of stealing secrets and employees.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

A trial began in Texas on Tuesday over Huawei's charge that one of its former engineering managers stole trade secrets and lured away employees to form his CNEX Labs chipmaking startup, says a Reuters report.

In October, Huawei filed a lawsuit against CNEX and Ronnie Huang for allegedly stealing its solid-state disk storage technology that's found in thumb drives, smartphones and laptops.

CNEX, headquartered in San Jose, California, countersued and accused Huawei and subsidiary Futurewei of stealing CNEX technology.

Facing a jury Tuesday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Huawei reportedly said spelling mistakes in internal documents were seen again in Huang's startup proposal, proving the docs were stolen.

"Think of the spelling mistakes as DNA," Huawei attorney Michael Wexler reportedly said in his opening statement to an eight-person jury. "Stealing technology is wrong."

Reuters also reported that Huawei showed video footage of another former employee admitting to stealing 5,760 files from his work computer before joining CNEX.

Huawei is seeking $85.7 million in damages as well as rights to the technology, according to Reuters, with Huang reportedly scheduled to testify later Tuesday.

Back in Oct. 2018, CNEX Labs said it raised $23 million in a Series D funding round led by Dell.

Neither Huawei nor CNEX Labs immediately responded to requests for comment.

Huawei is itself also facing a 10-count indictment that alleges the company conspired to steal intellectual property from T-Mobile and subsequently obstructed justice, in addition to a separate 13-count indictment against the company and its CFO, Meng Wanzhou.

Huawei pleaded not guilty in the T-Mobile case in March. At the center of the case is Tappy, a T-Mobile robot built to torture-test phones.