This leading provider of EDA and semiconductor IP helps engineers design the transistors, standard cells, and IP blocks that make up systems on chips (SoC). Its digital tools automate the design and verification of gigascale, gigahertz SoCs at the latest semiconductor processing nodes. Its IC packaging and printed circuit board (PCB) tools permit the design of complete boards and subsystems.
The company had suspected that its software was being pirated several years ago when abnormal activity was tracked, so methods were put in place to keep the pirates from going into its systems. Phone-home technology was integrated into the software of one of its smaller product lines, and the resulting data validated the assumption of piracy. The piracy issue was pervasive and widespread in terms of the volume of data that was being stolen, and it also became clear that other products were being pirated.
The first stage of impact was the revelation that this is happening and that the extent was so huge. It took key players in the company some time to digest the information, but subsequently it was decided to develop some models that would help estimate what the potential monetary value was that was being lost. The question that was asked was what would be the potential recovery if the company did embark on a program such as software compliance.
The volume of theft was a clear indicator that would warrant action from the company. In terms of modeling, piracy team members looked at the problem in several different ways, relying on information that was being gathered in order to factor in the sensitivities involved in those infringing organizations, the resistance of some customers, company cultures, and how aggressive they wanted to be in pursuing the piracy. There is a very clear mandate from management on compliance and taking every step possible to ensure that the company’s IP is protected, but at the same time approaching the problem from an angle of helping customers actually achieve compliance. It was felt that this approach would help set a positive tone for compliance because it was evident that a lot of infringements were coming from customer organizations and the team didn’t believe those infringements were intentional. Companies are all operating in a globally intertwined world where organizations are spread over multiple countries and geographies. In terms of how the supply chain is leveraged across the globe, it’s very hard for a global company to manage and monitor who is bringing in what kind of software to their computer. There were also increasing attitudes about personal liberty. These were difficult problems to address.
Before embarking on its project with SmartFlow there was no formal compliance program. Other technologies were used to help identify and track infringement information, but they were more of a pilot program. When the company got serious with a formal compliance organization, it chose SmartFlow. One of the company’s partners introduced the compliance team to SmartFlow and they subsequently established contact with the principals and found them to be very knowledgeable in this area. Since then they have had a great working relationship.
The company says it has absolutely benefited from its relationship with SmartFlow. In terms of expectations, the compliance team knew that SmartFlow’s anti-piracy technology and compliance program was new yet evolving. While that presented a few challenges in the beginning, where it took weeks or months to find a solution to some of the issues, as the software matured, the company started to see results.
At the same time, SmartFlow wanted the company’s compliance team to get involved in the development of the product and be a part of how it evolved. The team has been able to provide ongoing input in order to customize its solution from the ground up to fit its particular needs and to ensure that its valuable customer relationships and personal privacy are preserved while still gathering actionable information against the intentional pirates. The team is very pleased with the results that it is seeing now and believes that SmartFlow technology has matured to a point where it can start to take action from the information that is being gathered.
SmartFlow developers are focused on the holistic aspects of a compliance program, not just on recovering as much lost revenue as possible. This company needs to be very careful to preserve its good customer relationships and not make the mistake of wrongly accusing someone. SmartFlow provides the ongoing detailed information needed to make accurate decisions about who to go after and how aggressive to be. The compliance team values SmartFlow’s partnership viewpoint that enables it to provide input regarding features and capabilities and to customize its solution to meet its unique needs.