Protect IP and Avoid IP Leakage
February 25, 2021

Stop IP Leakage: How to Protect IP

Security & Compliance
IP Lifecycle Management

Unless you sufficiently protect your semiconductor IP, you’ll risk an IP leak. In fact, your IP portfolio is probably at risk of an IP leak right now. This has real consequences  potentially costing your business millions of dollars.

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

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What Is IP Leakage?

IP leakage refers to the release 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 leaks are dangerous — and it can open up your business to IP theft.

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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. 

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The Cost of an IP Leak

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 Helix IPLM (formerly Methodics) — 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 Helix IPLM can help you prevent semiconductor IP leaks.

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Why IP Leakage Happens

Semiconductor IP leaks happen all too easily. 

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

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.

🌎 Want to see exactly how Helix IPLM helps you maintain the global security of your design assets and keep up with changing restrictions — without negatively impacting already stretched design teams and schedules?

Watch the webinar: IP Security Infrastructure in an Uncertain World >>

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How to Protect IP with Helix IPLM

You can protect IP with dedicated tools that allow you to closely manage and control IP use across the entire IP lifecycle. The best way to protect IP and prevent accidental IP leakage is by using Helix IPLM

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

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

Find out why 9 of the 10 top semiconductor companies trust Helix IPLM and Helix Core to help ensure IP security and traceability.

Protect IP Today

IP leakage is expensive. That’s why protecting your IP is an urgent need.

By using Helix 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 time to market. 

Get in touch with one of our experts today to get started.

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