Washington’s campaign to discredit Chinese telecom-gear maker Huawei shows no signs of letting up, and a new report this week sheds light on the lengths to which US law-enforcement agencies are going to find dirt on the company.
On the same day late last month that the US Justice Department released a series of criminal charges against Huawei, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a raid on the firm’s lab in San Diego. According to an account published in Bloomberg Businessweek, the FBI was seeking evidence that the firm was attempting to reverse-engineer a new type of ultra-strong, diamond-coated glass developed by an Illinois-based startup.
The warrant for the raid was obtained after a sting operation undertaken at the CES trade show in Las Vegas in early January, during which executives from the startup, Akhan Semiconductor, donned recording devices and met with employees from Huawei.
Adam Khan, the inventor of the Miraj Diamond Glass, believed that Huawei was trying to steal his technology, and along with his chief operations officer Carl Shurboff had been enlisted by the FBI to help investigate.
According to the report, the FBI had been cultivating relationships with US startups for some time to look into potential intellectual property theft.
Judging from the extent of criminal charges unveiled against Huawei last month, Washington has good reason to dig deeper if it wants to discredit Huawei for engaging in theft of trade secrets. The only related charge it has been able to muster is a years-old case involving a smartphone screen testing device, called Tappy, which was settled in a civil suit years ago.
As Adam Segal, a cybersecurity expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently told The Washington Post, “If Tappy is as far as they’ve gotten on [IP] theft, that seems to be pretty thin gruel.”
But so far, no charges have been brought as a result of the sting operation and raid on Huawei’s lab.
Akhan, for its part, said in a statement on Monday that it was considering possible legal action.
“Given the threat that Huawei’s apparent theft poses to Akhan shareholders, employees, and customers – and the potential loss to US jobs, revenue, and other projected economic impact – Akhan is considering any and all legal remedies available,” the statement read.