T-Mobile is suing Huawei for allegedly stealing information on its robot


Uh-oh, it looks like T-Mobile USA and Huawei have recently gotten into a little spat that has resulted in the carrier suing the Chinese company. According to a report from The Seattle Times, T-Mobile alleges that Huawei has stolen the design and parts of a robot that the carrier has referred to as “Tappy”. For those unfamiliar, Tappy is a robot that T-Mobile uses to stress test new phones to make sure that it is of decent quality. Of course not all phones are created equal, but there should be at least some minimum level of quality before it is sold to the public, right? That being said, T-Mobile alleges that Huawei employees, during 2012 and 2013, took photos of the robot as well as tried to steal one of the robot’s fingertips.

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 Sept. 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 Bellevue lab, and — when banned from the 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.

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