Bombshell report accuses Huawei of using questionable tactics to copy Apple's technology

Bombshell report accuses Huawei of using questionable tactics to copy Apple's technology
Reverse engineering is when a company takes apart a product made by a rival to discover how the product is made. This is not necessarily illegal, depending on the country and the process involved. However, a report published today by The Information says that Apple and some of its suppliers are upset with the methods used by Huawei to obtain some of the secrets used by Apple in its products.

As an example, the heart rate monitor on Huawei's smartwatch was not considered by its users to be up to the same standards of the same feature on the Apple Watch. So last November, a Huawei engineer made an appointment to visit one of the firms that supplies parts for the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch. The meeting was made on the pretense that Huawei was going to give the supplier a huge contract. Instead, the Huawei engineer pestered his host with questions about the Apple Watch, which the supplier refused to answer. An executive of the supplier said, "They were trying their luck, but we wouldn’t tell them anything."

The story is disturbingly similar to events that took place back in 2016 when Huawei wanted to copy a component devised by Apple that made the hinge on the MacBook Pro thinner, but still allowed the display on the device to attach to the logic board. Huawei allegedly went to a number of different suppliers that had the ability to knock off the part. With the schematics in hand, Huawei approached the companies and was turned down; the suppliers knew that the component was designed by Apple and refused to produce it. Still, Huawei was able to find a manufacturer to make it, and it was used in the Huawei Mate Book Pro.

Huawei was found guilty of stealing tech secrets from T-Mobile


Back in 2014, T-Mobile filed a civil suit against Huawei, claiming that the company stole technology it devised for "Tappy," a phone-testing robot. T-Mobile alleged that not only did a Huawei engineer visiting the facility illegally snap pictures of "Tappy," another Huawei employee actually stole parts of the robot's tips and returned to China with the parts in his bag. Sounding quite similar to the Apple Watch story, Huawei later admitted that its robot was not as good as T-Mobile's, leading to the technology theft. The U.S. Justice Deopartment recently issued a criminal indictment against the company over the same incident.

Huawei also likes to go after former Apple supply chain employees and arrange job interviews with them. During the interviews, the ex-employees are peppered with questions about Apple's upcoming products and technology. One former Apple employee who was subjected to this treatment said, "It was clear they were more interested in trying to learn about Apple than they were in hiring me." And line workers at contract manufacturer Foxconn, the company that assembles devices for Apple and other companies, have reportedly been approached by Huawei personnel seeking some sort of inside edge. Considering that these workers are not highly paid and are often overworked, they could be easily susceptible to revealing what they know in return for some cash.

Of course Apple, its suppliers and assembly firms have security in place. But this isn't always enough. Take the meeting that Huawei setup with the Apple Watch heart rate monitor supplier. Since Huawei is a huge company, these companies can't turn down prospective business from them.

The company is considered a national security threat in the U.S.


Huawei is also accused by U.S. lawmakers of using its networking equipment and phones to gather information and pass it along to the Chinese government. President Trump is expected to sign an order banning the use of Chinese networking gear by U.S. carriers. Back in 2012, Congress declared Huawei and ZTE to be national security threats, a statement that has been repeated often since then.

Of course, Huawei denies that it tries to obtain confidential information from its competitors. T-Mobile's experience with "Tappy" says otherwise. Even through all of this talk about Huawei products spying on consumers and companies, the firm is going all out to become the world's biggest smartphone company by the end of the year. It already is the largest provider of networking equipment in the world.

FEATURED VIDEO

45 Comments

1. Asuveroz

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 19, 2018

No surprise here. It's a Chinese company after all.

2. blingblingthing

Posts: 891; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Sounds a little over the top on Huawei's part. We must remember however this for the most part is the industry norm. You see a hit product and try to make it better.

3. Spacekid

Posts: 16; Member since: Jan 17, 2019

Is reverse engineering illegal though?

4. blingblingthing

Posts: 891; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

I doubt.; Copying patents would be though.

30. ph00ny

Posts: 1995; Member since: May 26, 2011

If they're going to the suppliers to obtain further detail it is

5. Whitedot

Posts: 721; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

Apple fisting is a form of excessive worshiping knowing everyone knows about what you do.

6. Subie

Posts: 2295; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Just one more report showing the potential true shady side of Huawei. The side that shows how the entire company's tech portfolio has been built up - not from their own ingenuity but from stolen IP. They've allegedly also stolen from the likes of Cisco and probably everything from Nortel. It's been long believed that the Chinese hacks of Nortel were from, or benefited Huawei and ZTE, and more articles like this and the T-mobile IP theft just adds fuel to the fire... https://www.networkworld.com/article/2223272/cisco-subnet/60-minutes-torpedoes-huawei-in-less-than-15-minutes.html

10. Busyboy

Posts: 731; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

Yep, China hacked Nortel to pieces. Out of principle, I will never buy technology from a Chinese company again.

40. SmartPhoneMobiles

Posts: 176; Member since: Oct 16, 2016

oh good for u paranoid ..

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 30833; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Trump's gonna build a wall around Huawei headquarters. It's gonna be huuuuuuuuuge!

12. Vancetastic

Posts: 812; Member since: May 17, 2017

And beautiful!

26. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3098; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

It's not huge, it's yuge. And China's going to pay for it.

32. dimas

Posts: 3291; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Big ol' corn hair's been also limiting the entry of chinese students in american universities. They suspect students get their science or copy promising ideas from their classmates then reproduce them in their country. It's like the russian sleeper agents but with notebooks and hipster backpacks.

41. SmartPhoneMobiles

Posts: 176; Member since: Oct 16, 2016

u crazy he has no idea what huawei even is ... he only knows dat r)apple crying to him to ban huawei but u all talking how huawei is bad but when rapple destroyed sony and copied all was fine and trump doesn't give fk bout rapple because u don't realise how they taking piss from you your own ppl ... And u happily eating it /buying it from them... all rapple products failing after warranty ! and u have no idea they put

8. Vogue1985

Posts: 384; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Well, some of your goods are supposedly made by the same manufacturer (Foxconn) in China. So what do you expect, if Apple were Really serious about really minimizing such claims, they would have setup up shop, manufacturing their phone here in the USA. But the copying would still happen to some extent.

39. mahalo15

Posts: 66; Member since: Nov 30, 2018

You're wrong my friend. Foxconn only assembles parts. Parts are manufactured by different suppliers (example display by LG/JDI/Samsung etc, Processor and SOC by TSMC, Camera sensor by Sony/Isocell (Samsung), Battery by LG Chem/Panasonic etc etc)

9. maherk

Posts: 6705; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

No $#it, even diehard Huawei fans knows that Huawei products are heavily inspired by Apple, same goes with Xiaomi products. You don't need reports to come to this conclusion.

14. Budhainthemood

Posts: 70; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Inspired is the other word for plagiarism, copying, theft? :)

15. maherk

Posts: 6705; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Nah, will stick with inspired. They're not stealing Apple's secrets or their technologies, they're simply mimicking their designs and their UI. And yes they're inspired by Apple, but imo they surpass them in terms of hardware and software features.

16. Subie

Posts: 2295; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Inspiration or being inspired by something is one thing. Directly trying to copy IP through dissection or industrial espionage is not inspiration. There's a line between being inspired by something and copying/plagiarism. All this info becoming more and more public regarding Huawei is pointing to the latter.

20. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Steve did like to quote Picasso: good artists copy; great artists steal

34. Vogue1985

Posts: 384; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Especially Xiaomi, their whole line from day one has been imitating the iPhones looks even the launcher the icons everything lol but on Android and sell for cheap. its worked,big money,so why stop now lol. Huawei same with them and it worked too.

11. alanrock

Posts: 259; Member since: Oct 04, 2018

after rounded corners theft everything is possible...

17. Donone41

Posts: 246; Member since: Dec 17, 2014

Garbage company such as Huawei should not be rewarded with people's hard earn cash by blatantly copying someone else's product. It's a damn shame they're so successful each year when all they do is steal other's ideas.

18. p51d007

Posts: 700; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

This ain't "news". 99% of the Chinese companies do this for the "good of their dictator government". OR ELSE!

23. Techist

Posts: 311; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

I don't know about 99%, but intellectual property theft by the Chinese (whether government supported or not) is pervasive and extensive across virtually every scientific and technological domain. The Chinese seem to have no qualms about it, or about otherwise exploiting others using unethical means.

19. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Yet UK's own NSA, the NCSC, downplays the threat Huawei's 5G equipment bring to the table and says it save to use. It's just US scare tactics. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/technology/article-britain-concludes-it-can-mitigate-risk-from-use-of-huawei-equipment-in/ And I find it pretty funny that in this period the US wants us to believe Huawei is a threat, we find/see all this bad news on Huawei or its employees. Not saying it's all a lie, but I doubt everything is true.

24. Subie

Posts: 2295; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

The article you linked to says "mitigate" the risks. That means they believe that there are risks/threats involved with choosing tech from Huawei. I read the whole article and this is the message that I got from it. One quote from the article and the chief of Britain's foreign Inteligence service: " Britain should avoid relying on a monopoly provider of equipment in new 5G mobile networks, but that there were no easy answers to concerns about using Huawei" That doesn't sound like a cut and dried opinion regarding Huawei to me. This is more than just US scare tactics IMO...

35. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

No that is not what it means. The person in question (the chief) says it's always a bad thing for an entire network to be solely depended on one vendor. That being Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson or whatever. Which can be mitigated by choosing more than one vendor to work with. They have not found proof of any backdoors and if they did, they wouldn't have mitigated this equipment, they would have banned the s**t out of it. Doesn't mean it doesn't pose a threat since you can't rule out they will put one in, in a later stage or just plain-old bugs that are unintentional. But this threat comes from other equipment as well (like those nice Cisco backdoors). So to mitigate this, you make sure your communication network is diverse. So yeah, US cried wolf.

36. mootu

Posts: 1411; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

One quote from the article and the chief of Britain's foreign Inteligence service: " Britain should avoid relying on a monopoly provider of equipment in new 5G mobile networks, but that there were no easy answers to concerns about using Huawei" That doesn't sound like a cut and dried opinion regarding Huawei to me. He also said in an interview a few months ago that he is under massive pressure from the US to not use Huawei or they will get less intelligence sharing.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.