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Chinese telco recruited Motorola staff to steal trade secrets: US

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Monday it has brought criminal charges against China-based telecommunications company Hytera, accusing it of conspiring with Motorola Solutions Inc employees to steal the American company’s digital mobile radio technology.

According to an indictment unsealed today in federal court in Chicago, Motorola Solutions developed the DMR technology through years of research and design. Motorola Solutions marketed and sold the radios, which are sometimes referred to as “walkie-talkies,” in the United States and elsewhere. The indictment alleges that China-based HYTERA COMMUNICATIONS CORP. LTD. recruited and hired Motorola Solutions employees and directed them to take proprietary and trade secret information from Motorola without authorization. The charges allege that while still employed at Motorola, some of the employees allegedly accessed the trade secret information from Motorola’s internal database and sent multiple emails describing their intentions to use the technology at Hytera.

From 2007 to 2020, Hytera and the recruited employees used Motorola’s proprietary and trade secret information to accelerate the development of Hytera’s DMR products, train Hytera employees, and market and sell Hytera’s DMR products throughout the world, the indictment states. According to the indictment, Hytera paid the recruited employees higher salaries and benefits than what they received at Motorola.

The 21-count indictment was partially unsealed today by court order in U.S. District Court in Chicago. It charges Hytera with conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets. Hytera and others are also charged with individual counts of possession or attempted possession of stolen trade secrets. The names of other defendants who have not appeared in U.S. District Court are redacted.

Hytera’s arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled. If convicted, the company faces a potential criminal fine of three times the value of the stolen trade secret to the company, including expenses for research, design, and other costs that it allegedly avoided.

Mark Hacker, the general counsel and chief administrative officer for Motorola Solutions, said in a statement that the charges against Hytera revealed the “calculated and deliberate character of Hytera’s illegal activity directed at Motorola Solutions.” He added that Motorola would continue to pursue civil litigation against Hytera world-wide and would work to protect its technology.

Hytera is a former distributor of Motorola Solutions products.

Motorola won a civil judgment in a trade secret theft and copyright infringement case against Hytera in February 2020, and was awarded $764.6 million. That amount was reduced to $543.7 million last year. Hytera has said it would appeal.

CT Bureau

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