The effort by Futurewei Technologies Inc appears to be aimed at obfuscating its link with its Chinese parent Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. It continues to be owned and funded by its Chinese parent.
According to two sources familiar with the matter at hand, the U.S.-based research arm of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, Futurewei Technologies Inc, has moved to separate its operations from its corporate parent.
Futurewei has banned Huawei employees from its offices and has moved Futurewei employees to a new IT system; it has also forbidden them from using the Huawei name or logo in communications, said a Futurewei employee on the condition of anonymity.
According to this source, Huawei still owns Futurewei.
Milton Frazier, Futurewei’s general counsel, declined to comment on the separation or the strategy behind it; he referred questions to Huawei spokesman Chase Skinner.
Skinner did not answer questions on the separation or the strategy behind it.
This seperation of Futurewei with Huawei, comes in the wake of many U.S. universities halting their research partnerships with Huawei following a U.S. government to blacklist the Chinese company on the grounds of national security. Many U.S. universities are rethinking their partnerships with other Chinese firms as well.
Incidentally, Futurewei is Huawei’s U.S.-based research and development arm.
According to its workers LinkedIn pages, Futurewei employs hundreds of people at offices in Silicon Valley and in the greater Seattle, Chicago and Dallas areas.
According to data from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Futurewei has filed more than 2,100 patents in areas including telecommunications, 5G cellular networks, video and camera technologies.
According to the source, until now, Futurewei’s operations have been largely indistinguishable from Huawei. Futurewei had no separate brand or even a website, the employee said, and its staff often identified themselves as Huawei employees.
Futurewei and Huawei have conducted a wide range of research partnerships and grant programs with U.S. universities.
In 2018, 26 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, warning that Huawei’s partnerships with at least 50 U.S. universities “may pose a significant threat to national security.”
Huawei could be using university partnerships to scoop up research in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and telecommunications which could be used in hacking or spying operations or could give Chinese companies an edge over U.S. competitors.
Many U.S. universities are unsure whether they can continue partnering with Futurewei, which although is not on the government’s entity list, it is however owned and funded by Huawei.
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, it could not legally place Futurewei on the entity list since it is a U.S. company.
Commerce spokesman Ari Schaffer did not answer questions on whether and how the agency regulates university research partnerships with entity-list companies or their U.S. subsidiaries.
According to Congressman Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who signed the letter warning about Huawei’s university partnerships, the move to separate Futurewei from Huawei would not resolve any concerns since “Futurewei is Huawei”.
In March, Banks introduced a bill called the “Protect Our Universities Act” that would allow government agencies to restrict or cancel federal funding for any sensitive research project carried out with companies that pose a threat of espionage.
The Protect Our Universities Act names Huawei as well as several other Chinese technology companies as threats, along with any company owned or controlled by the governments of China, Russia, North Korea or Iran.