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Huawei/CNEX and the Role of Trade Secrets in the U.S.-China Trade War

In late May, news reports surfaced regarding allegations of trade secret theft committed by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies that had been made in an Eastern District of Texas case. The claims targeted an executive working for Huawei who is accused of participating in a scheme to misappropriate trade secrets from California-based semiconductor startup CNEX Labs. The recent filings mark a new turn in the case, which was originally filed in 2017 by Huawei when it accused CNEX of committing trade secret theft and poaching employees in an effort led by a former Huawei employee and CNEX co-founder. CNEX Labs might be a startup, but it has been attracting venture capital funding for its cloud software and solid-state drive controller products from major names in the tech industry, including Dell and Microsoft. While Huawei has made its own allegations against CNEX, news reports indicate that Huawei’s attempt to access a closely guarded research project by working through a Chinese university professor isn’t an isolated incident. In fact, such activities may be a major factor behind the company’s rapid rise in recent years.

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