Protect IP and Avoid IP Leakage
February 25, 2021

How to Protect IP and Avoid IP Leakage

Security & Compliance
IP Lifecycle Management

Unless you sufficiently protect IP, you’ll risk IP leakage. In fact, your IP portfolio is probably leaking right now. This has real consequences  costing your business millions of dollars.

Learn everything you need to know to protect your semiconductor IP. Read along or jump ahead:


What Is IP Leakage?

IP leakage refers to the leak of IP to a country where it is not authorized, usually as a result of the mismanagement of IP. This is a major risk in semiconductor development. IP leakage is dangerous — and it can open up your business to IP theft.

What Is IP Protection?

IP protection refers to measures you can use to prevent IP loss — both accidental IP leakage and intentional IP theft.

IP protection often requires a combination of security measures across the tools in the development environment. Defense in depth, for instance, is an IP protection measure that helps you prevent, detect, and respond to security threats.

When it comes to protecting IP in semiconductor design, leakage is a top concern. 

The Cost of IP Leaks

IP leaks cost millions of dollars. There can be fines associated with releasing IP across borders without a proper export license in place. IP is often leaked without any general knowledge that it is actually happening. But there are certainly cases where it happens for nefarious reasons as well.

With every passing day, global trade and export rules become more complex. Governments in various countries across the world are increasingly sensitive to the leakage of high-technology IP that can find its way into the wrong hands. IP leaks can provide a boost to enemies or other hostile actors. And the complexity scale is probably exponential into the near future.

In the U.S., this scenario is governed by the deemed export rule. This rule states that any release of controlled technology and information to a non-U.S. person — regardless of where the export takes place — is deemed an export.

So, you must ensure that no sensitive IP is released to a non-U.S. person without a deemed export license in place. Fines for exporting restricted technology can easily run into the $100,000s and even millions of dollars. And in some cases, semiconductor companies have even paid $10 million or more in fines under these rules.

Without an IP lifecycle management solution — like Methodics IPLM in place — you’ll need to set aside millions in the event of a leak. And just how many millions are you willing to set aside?

Go In-Depth With This White Paper
How Many Millions Are You Willing to Set Aside to Address IP Leakage?

Learn how to use Methodics IPLM to prevent leaking your IP.
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Why IP Leakage Happens

Leaks happen all too easily. 

As companies continue to expand their workforce around the world, acquire other companies, or get consolidated into larger enterprises, they oversee a vast network of design teams located across many different countries. 

These teams often collaborate across geographies — providing design assets and other collaterals to multiple projects. Plus, a complex and often overworked IT infrastructure of storage, data centers, and network connectivity underpins these teams.

As these teams collaborate, it is essential to track which parts of the design can be made visible to which users and locations around the world. 

If a design is decomposed into a collection of IPs, then this becomes the problem of preventing IP leakage. You must ensure that IPs aren’t accidentally shipped to a country where they aren’t allowed.

Malicious users are always a threat that needs to be taken seriously. But IP leaks can happen due to many reasons, often without any intention of wrongdoing.

Here’s how an IP can be leaked accidentally due to inadequate IP management.

1. Inadequate Access Controls

Users are free to view and download or use IPs without a proper system that prevents their access.

2. Avoid Use Model Problems

Avoid use models that encourage IP delivery outside of managed interfaces. For example, using tar balls as IP drops can easily lead to leakage.

3. Embedded IPs

IP management platforms that lack traceability usually end up compacting IP hierarchies. This leads to situations where IPs that might have no restrictions themselves are embedded with restricted IPs — without the user’s knowledge.

4. Traveling Users

IPs can leak due to traveling users. If a user goes into a restricted geography and builds out project workspaces in that geography, it results in a leak. Even with adequate permissions, this might lead to the user exporting an IP without realizing it.

Protect Your Most Important IP Assets
View our on-demand webinar as we 
show how the Methodics IPLM platform makes IP security part of the design process with minimal impact to the design team’s daily workflows.

How to Protect IP With Methodics IPLM

The best way to protect IP and prevent accidental IP leakage is by using Methodics IPLM

Methodics IPLM is a unique IP lifecycle management platform. It provides a new way to collaborate on worldwide chip design. Plus, Methodics IPLM provides traceability and access control needed to help you protect IP. 

You can easily configure Methodics IPLM to protect IP by: 
1.Enabling proper access controls. 
2.Securing use models.
3.Establishing fully traceable IPs.
4.Restricting users, including adding visibility into their actions.

Plus, you can use Methodics IPLM with Helix Core for enhanced security and monitoring. Helix Core is version control from Perforce. It’s tightly integrated with Methodics IPLM. Using these tools together helps you utilize access controls and support design teams across geographies. 

9 of the 10 top semiconductor companies use Methodics IPLM and Helix Core.

Protect IP Today

IP leakage is expensive. That’s why it’s time to protect your IP today. 

By using Methodics IPLM, you can prevent IP leaks. You can leverage features and workflows that ensure IP is restricted to authorized geographies. As a result, you’ll avoid costly fines. And you’ll confidently protect your IP. 

At the same time, you’ll gain speed — ensuring faster delivery of your semiconductor. 

Get in touch with one of our experts today. We’ll provide you with white papers and other resources — like How Many Millions Are You Willing to Set Aside to Address IP Leakage? — and provide guidance on how Methodics IPLM will help your business. 

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