Protective Framework for Preventing Theft of Intellectual Property for Integrated Circuits

Technology #16213

Uses a Combination of Protections to Keep Chips Safe from Theft at All Stages of Production

This protective framework prevents piracy and theft of the intellectual property of integrated circuits. Intellectual property theft is a prominent issue in the production process of integrated circuits. U.S. firms estimate that over $1.3 billion is lost annually from foreign patent infringements. Integrated circuits are subject to intellectual property threats, such as the cloning of design features and the sale of excess manufactured chips under different names, thus creating a need for increased protection. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed software that protects integrated circuits from intellectual property theft throughout the circuit’s production process. The chips are protected against intellectual property theft by combining an encrypted software function with methods of hardware obfuscation. This function enables manufacturing plants to test the chips without unlocking them, providing increased protection for the stored intellectual property contents. Additionally, the chips use a combination of asymmetric and symmetric key encryption to ensure secure tamper free transfer of chip unlock keys for activation. These protective functions keep the chips safe from theft at the system on chip design phase, the manufacturing and assembly stage, and the vending stage.


Software to protect integrated circuits from the theft of intellectual property during its integration into designs, during the manufacturing process, and during integrated circuit tests


  • Uses encrypted software function and obfuscation, enabling IP integrators and manufacturing plants to simulate and test the chips without unlocking them
  • Uses a combination of asymmetric and symmetric key encryption, ensuring tamper-free transfer between production steps
  • Uses combination of security measures, minimizing the vulnerability of intellectual property in all stages of design, production, and vending


University of Florida researchers have developed software that obfuscates and encrypts the intellectual property of integrated circuits through the process of design, manufacturing, and vending. This protective framework technology protects the intellectual property (IP) of the circuits at all vulnerable steps of the production process. The framework allows for the testing of the chips during manufacturing without being unlocked, verifies the integrity of the netlist using a secure cryptographic hash function at the design process, and ensures safe tamper-free transfer of chip unlock keys for the activation of chips. In combination, these protective methods prevent criminals from identifying key components of the integrated chips, thus preventing the capability to reverse engineer the chip’s functions and sell the technology as their own.

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