SEMI Releases Additional Intellectual Property Survey Information

SEMI Releases Additional Intellectual Property Survey Information

By Jamie Girard, senior director, SEMI Americas Public Policy

Infringement on Intellectual Property (IP) continues to be a concern across the semiconductor industry supply chain.  SEMI has worked to understand the problems that member companies encounter by conducting a series of surveys to hear directly from members.  The SEMI 2012 IP Survey was originally released in March 2012, and detailed the continuing struggle that companies face in protecting IP rights globally.  In fact, 97 percent of respondents considered IP challenges as “somewhat serious” to “extremely serious,” while the remaining three percent characterized the challenges as “not serious.”

As a follow up to this survey, SEMI also polled it members to gather additional information regarding some of the challenges they face in protecting their IP in a real world setting.  While the original survey numbers detail the overall scope of the problem, it was decided that some anecdotal information would lend a fuller picture of the global IP environment.  With SEMI member companies investing an average of 10-15 percent of their revenues annually back into research and development, the loss of IP is too expensive to ignore. The revised IP survey with the additional results can be downloaded at: www.semi.org/en/2012IPWhitePaper

The anecdotal survey asked respondents eight open-ended questions regarding potential areas of IP infringement that may not be so “black and white.  In response to a question on whether or not members have felt pressured by customers to “give away” IP, respondents cited multiple instances in which they were compelled to release guarded information  in order to maintain relationships with customers or mitigate the loss of business altogether.  Respondents also detailed other ways in which they lose IP, such as employees failing to follow best practices to safeguard proprietary information. The survey responses also help to detail some important ways in which companies can work best practices into their systems to prioritize IP protections.

The anecdotal information also helps to highlight the underlying IP survey by providing additional insight on some of the challenges that U.S. based companies face when doing business abroad.  Whether we are talking about foreign governments or their justice systems, it is certainly apparent that much work remains to be done in helping these institutions understand the importance of IP protection and the adverse effects that IP infringement can have on their economies.  When asked, “Has your company ever declined to invest resources in a country because of concern over potential loss of IP,” a respondent said it all in a one-word answer: “Absolutely.”

Because of these ongoing challenges, SEMI continues an active industry advocacy program to promote intellectual property rights.  In addition to the IP position statement approved by the SEMI International Board of Directors in 2006, all SEMI member companies are required to commit to an IP statement of principles as part of their association membership.  Our continuing outreach activities include meetings with government officials in several regions to build on recent efforts in Taiwan, Korea, and the United States.  In addition, SEMI is working to forge a stronger relationship with its customers to create more total supply chain support for IP rights.

Companies interested in SEMI’s IP activities are encouraged to check out the SEMI IP webpage at www.semi.org/ip.   To get involved, you may contact Jamie Girard, senior director, Public Policy, at jgirard@semi.org.  

November 6, 2012