Huawei drafted a defiant response to the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) revision of its charges against the company to make its case a RICO prosecution.

The company wrote:

“For quite a while, the US government has been using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company. It has used every tool at its disposal, whether they be legislative, administrative, judicial, or diplomatic, and has even tried to turn public opinion against Huawei to disrupt our normal business operations. Rarely has this kind of attack been seen before in history. The US Department of Justice’s new charges against Huawei are part of this campaign. This is political persecution, plain and simple.”

Ordinarily, prosecutors can evaluate an action or related series of actions alleged to be criminal and determine whether those actions violate multiple laws; they commonly do that. RICO is subtly different in that it enables US prosecutors to argue that defendants have engaged in a pattern of illegal activity over time. Furthermore, the actions alleged to be criminal need not be related to each other except in criminal intent. It allows prosecutors to compile a grab-bag of charges that they can stitch together to establish a pattern of illegal behavior.

In the case against Huawei, the DoJ has compiled a detailed list of every infraction Huawei has ever been accused of for the last 20 years or so, including several public and well-known lawsuits.

“These charges do not reveal anything new,” Huawei said. “They are based largely on resolved civil disputes from the last 20 years that have been previously settled, litigated, and in some cases, rejected by federal judges and juries. In these disputes, no court has ever found that Huawei had engaged in malicious intellectual property theft, or required Huawei to pay damages for infringement on others’ intellectual property.”

This is at least partially true. The most serious charges in the revised RICO case have to do with several high-profile cases brought against Huawei in the past by Cisco, Motorola, and T-Mobile. There are other charges that are much less serious than acts of IP theft itself (e.g. attempting to hire away people employed by competitors, setting up a system that rewards employees for IP theft), which have apparently not been adjudicated; it’s unclear which, if any, of those have been made public before.

Huawei nonetheless argues that the charges are “selective, politically-motivated enforcement of the law, and contrary to common judicial conventions.”

The company then makes the implication that if being accused of IP theft makes a company a criminal enterprise, then Apple (based in the US) and Samsung (based in South Korea) are among the biggest malefactors in corporate history.

As Huawei’s response reads: “According to public records, from 2009 to 2019, Apple was involved in 596 intellectual property lawsuits and Samsung in 519. Huawei was involved in 209. The US Department of Justice has insisted on filing a criminal lawsuit against Huawei over the kind of civil intellectual property disputes that are common across the industry. The US government’s sole purpose for this is to attack, discredit, and smear the reputation of Huawei’s leading technologies. They want to damage Huawei’s competitive edge in the global market”

Huawei’s full response is here.