Semiconductor IP News and Trends Blog
Intellectual Property News: Sep-Oct 2019
Too late to protect memory IP theft; predictive maintenance; IP for AI; CFET transistor innovation, manufacturing IP tests process.
By John Blyler, Editor, IP Insider
Here’s the latest news from the world of high-tech intellectual property (IP):
- A new IP policy group was launched in September 2019, by the Department of Defense (DoD). The group is tasked with improving the protection of U.S. IP from data theft. According to reports, the group will work on solving the increasing threat of IP theft by China and others.
- China’s focus on memory technology has an interesting IP angle as noted by Malcolm Penn, Chairman & CEO of Future Horizons, in his recent “IFS2019-MT Mid-Term SC Industry Update & Forecast. Malcolm noted China’s focus on memory devices with the construction of new fabs and prototyping of DRAM and Flash Drives – though not necessarily using legal licensing means. Although the current US administration has stopped sales of key capital equipment and IP, Malcolm predicts that China already possesses enough high-end equipment to process 3D flash memory.
- The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) is transforming industrial and manufacturing sectors. This is a good thing as General Electric recently estimated that the IIoT could add $10 to $15 trillion to the worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 15 years. This amount of GDP is equivalent to the size of today’s U.S. economy. One segment that will benefit from this growth is the domain of maintenance. The research firm CEIPI is studying the technical and business impacts of evolving predictive maintenance technologies, including the IP rights in both upstream and downstream implementation of predictive maintenance services.
- The growth of AI software and processing hardware across a broad range of technologies has promoted the WIPO to convene a meeting – WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence . This meeting aims to provide member states with an opportunity to exchange views on various topics regarding AI and related IP systems.
- Think that all IP innovation focuses on processor and memory technologies? Not so! Transistor designs – the building blocks of any silicon device – continue to evolve. For example, the flemish government’s Imec R&D nanotechnology center announced last year the development of the stacked gate all around (GAA) nanowire transistor form (see Figure 1). Such a design allows two transistors to occupy the space of one, thus pushing off the demise of Moore’s Law.
- In addition to design innovations, IP is also helping in manufacturing activities. However, additive-manufacturing devices such as 3D printing technology may actually challenge today’s system of IP rights. According to Autumn Smith, 3D printing complicates existing rights as it encompasses many facets of the law by involving a machine, a product, a digital process, and often the translation of that process. One way that 3D printing falls short with existing IP laws is in the implementation of the IP. For example, a user downloads a copy of a CAD file which in itself does not infringe on the patent. Only when an item is printed and actually used does a potential infringement ensure. Still, Smith argues that the appropriate response for now may be to do nothing and wait for the existing regulatory system to work out specific issues.