Chinese tech giant Huawei has been involved in "a pattern of dubious tactics" to steal technology from its rivals, particularly Apple's China-based suppliers, The Information has claimed.
While the theft of trade secrets is nothing new among technology firms, the new allegations against Huawei represent "a more brazen and elaborate system of seeking out secret information", said the report on Monday.
According to the report, a Huawei engineer in charge of the smartwatch project tracked down a supplier that makes the heart rate sensor for Apple Watch that has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The engineer arranged a meeting and questioned the supplier about the Apple Watch.
"The Huawei engineer attended the supplier meeting with four Huawei researchers in tow. The Huawei team spent the time pressing the supplier for details about the Apple Watch.
"They were trying their luck, but we wouldn't tell them anything," the supplier was quoted as saying.
According to the US Justice Department, Huawei is said to have a formal programme that rewards employees for stealing information, including bonuses that increase based on the confidential value of the information gathered.
The Department has filed a host of criminal charges, including bank fraud, obstruction of justice and theft of technology against Huawei and its detained Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. Both Huawei and Meng have denied the allegations.
A Huawei spokesperson replied to the report, saying that "In conducting research and development, Huawei employees must search and use publicly available information and respect third-party intellectual property per our business-conduct guidelines".
Huawei also reportedly copied a component of the MacBook Pro. The company built a connector for its MateBook Pro that was just like the one used in Apple's MacBook Pro from 2016.