Cisco accuses Huawei of misstating findings of 10-year-old litigation

Urges company to come clean on report that it copied and misappropriated Cisco source code

Adding more intrigue to this week's suspicion of Chinese telecommunications companies, Cisco has accused Huawei of misrepresenting the findings of litigation between the two companies almost 10 years ago.

In a blog post published today, Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler accused Huawei of misstating the facts about the case in recent remarks by its chief representative in the U.S. The litigation centered around Huawei's unauthorized use of Cisco source code in Huawei routers.

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In remarks made two weeks ago, Huawei Senior Vice President and Chief Representative Charles Ding absolved his company of any infringement of Cisco intellectual property; said Cisco dropped the case after reviewing Huawei's source code; and said the source code came from a third party and was already open and widely available on the Internet.

Cisco waived its confidentiality provisions from that litigation to refute Ding's claims this week.

"The agreement that ended that lawsuit allows either party to make a reasonable response to improper or impermissible statements by the other," Chandler blogged. "Mr. Ding's statements of two weeks ago indeed misstate the facts and therefore merit a direct, factually accurate and proportionate response."

Chandler then listed verbatim excerpts from the Neutral Expert's Final Source Code Report, dated June 15, 2004, which explicitly state that Huawei accessed, copied, compromised and misappropriated Cisco source code. The violation goes beyond the Cisco EIGRP routing protocol code Huawei admitted using and said it had removed prior to the Neutral Expert's review, Chandler blogs.

"None of these source code strings involved Cisco's proprietary EIGRP routing protocol that Huawei had publicly admitted to using in their products and had said they had removed prior to the Neutral Expert's review; rather, they are all related to 'core' parts of the routing code."

Huawei said it is having its legal team review the Chandler blog.

Chandler said Cisco chose to act this week after Huawei ignored an offer he made to them last week to waive its confidentiality provisions and set the record straight after Ding's remarks. He made the same offer this week in his blog.

"We urge Huawei to publish the full Neutral Expert's Final Report in order to clarify what actually happened in the litigation, overcome any confusion and demonstrate their purported transparent business practices and respect for intellectual property rights," Chandler states. "In the meantime, we will continue to be diligent in protecting our intellectual property."

The Chandler blog comes during an uneasy week for Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom vendor ZTE. On Sunday night, the TV show "60 Minutes" profiled Huawei as a company that some in the U.S. private and public sectors regard with suspicion and mistrust due to its alleged ties to the Chinese government.

On Monday, it was reported that Cisco ended a seven-year relationship with Chinese telecom vendor ZTE after an internal investigation uncovered sales of Cisco gear to an Iranian company, violating U.S. sanctions against such sales. A Cisco spokesperson confirmed that the company severed ties with ZTE "a few months ago."

Then later on Monday, a U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee report blasted Huawei and ZTE as threats to U.S. national security.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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