Huawei’s research firm, Futurewei, has sandboxed itself off from the wider Huawei company in a bid to carry on dealing with U.S. universities after Huawei was added to the U.S. government’s trade blacklist in May. Futurewei is a U.S.-based firm and operates out of Silicon Valley, Seattle, Chicago, and Dallas and has filed more than 2,000 patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
In a bid to remain relevant in the U.S., Futurewei has taken measures to isolate itself from the wider Huawei company, it has:
- banned Huawei employees from its offices,
- switched Futurewei employees to a new computer system which only they have access to,
- stopped using the Huawei name and logo in official communications.
When asked why it had taken these steps, Futurewei didn’t provide an answer but it’s likely that it’s doing it in an effort to maintain links with universities and other research facilities.
Before making the changes, Futurewei had no separate brand or website from Huawei, making them virtually indistinguishable. Additionally, those working for Futurewei referred to themselves as Huawei employees; with the new changes this seems unlikely going forward.
Universities are being cautious for the time being with their interaction with Futurewei. For example, Berkeley has scaled back its collaboration with Futurewei by refusing funding from the company for projects and also by restricting those who can get involved with research reviews. While it's not illegal right now for universities to take money from Futurewei, it could become more difficult to do so in future if bills such as the "Protect Our Universities Act" are passed which would allow the government to stem federal funding to projects that work with companies believed to be threats.