U.S. Charges Chinese Company Hytera for Conspiring with ex-Motorola Staff to Steal Technology

The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday it has criminally charged China-based telecommunications company Hytera for conspiring with former Motorola Solutions Inc employees to steal the American company’s digital mobile radio technology.

In a partially redacted indictment unsealed in the North District of Illinois, the government alleges that Hytera Communications Corp recruited Motorola employees to steal proprietary trade data about the radios, known as “walkie-talkies.”

Hytera and Motorola could not be immediately reached for comment.

The indictment charges the company by name, but it redacts the names of other co-defendants in the case, at least some of whom are the former Motorola employees Hytera allegedly recruited.

It says Motorola employees were recruited between 2007 through 2020, and that they received higher salaries and benefits than what they got at Motorola in exchange for stealing the trade secrets.

Motorola Solutions Inc in February 2020 won a $764.6 million jury verdict in a trade secret theft and copyright infringement case against Hytera.

A U.S. jury in Chicago found Shenzhen-based Hytera used Motorola Solutions’ confidential documents and copyright-protected source code to compete in the market for two-way radio communications. Hytera, a former distributor of Motorola Solutions products, told jurors it had developed its radios on its own.

The indictment unsealed on Monday marks the latest blow legal blow for Hytera in the United States.

In November, U.S. President Joe Biden signed legislation to prevent Hytera and other Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. that have been deemed security threats from receiving new equipment licenses from U.S. regulators.

Under former President Donald Trump, recipients of federal funding were also banned from using telecommunications equipment made by Hytera.

Hytera now faces 21 criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets. The company and the unidentified other defendants are also charged with counts of possessing or attempting to possess stolen trade secrets.

If the company is convicted, Hytera would face a criminal fine of three times the value of the stolen trade secrets.