Date
15 December 2019
A CNEX Labs chip tray is pictured in a handout photo obtained by Reuters. The California-based startup has refuted claims that it breached any Huawei patents.
A CNEX Labs chip tray is pictured in a handout photo obtained by Reuters. The California-based startup has refuted claims that it breached any Huawei patents.

Huawei loses trade secrets case against US chip designer

A US jury on Wednesday cleared California-based semiconductor designer CNEX Labs of stealing trade secrets from Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies while awarding CNEX no damages on its own trade theft counter claims, Reuters reports.

Huawei had sued CNEX in a court in Sherman, Texas, for misappropriation of trade secrets involving a memory control technology and for poaching its employees.

CNEX filed a counter suit, alleging Huawei sought to steal its technology by posing as a customer and calling the original claims part of a pattern by Huawei to obtain others’ secrets. 

A jury found that CNEX co-founder Yiren “Ronnie” Huang, who quit Huawei and co-founded CNEX days later, breached his employment contract requiring him to notify the company of any patents he obtained within a year of leaving the firm.

However, it did not award Huawei damages, the report said. 

A Huawei executive called the result a “mixed verdict,” saying the company “is disappointed that the jury awarded no damages after finding Mr. Huang breached his employment agreement.” 

Huawei had sued CNEX and co-founder Huang in 2017 and was seeking at least US$85.7 million in damages and rights to the San Jose, California, company’s memory-control technology. 

“The things that Huawei claims are trade secrets are not,” a CNEX attorney said in court at the beginning of the trial earlier this month. He further described the lawsuit as “bullying and intimidation.” 

The eight-person jury did not award CNEX any damages in its trade theft claims because it did not have any revenue, a CNEX spokesman said.

Huawei’s suit was an effort to acquire “CNEX’s advanced semiconductor technology” through a court action, the spokesman was quoted as saying. 

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