IP Leakage and How to Protect Your IP
Unless you sufficiently protect IP, you’ll risk an IP leak. 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?
- What Is IP Protection?
- The Cost of IP Leaks
- Why IP Leakage Happens
- How to Protect IP With Methodics IPLM
What Is an IP Leak?
An IP leak 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.
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 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.
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How Many Millions Are You Willing to Set Aside to Address IP Leakage?
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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 IP 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.