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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

IP Panel: What keeps you awake at night?

August 11th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena

It’s fantastic to see that the ESD Alliance is following through
with its new-found commitment to promote discussion about the IP industry. On Wednesday, September 14th, the Alliance is hosting an evening panel at their headquarters in Santa Clara to discuss semiconductor IP issues that “Keep You Awake at Night”.

As background, consider that the massive amounts of IP involved in building a modern SoC may translate into IP vendors losing millions of dollars if their IP is used therein without proper licensing. At the same time, semiconductor companies also wrestle with troubling issues if their engineers accidentally reuse a core without proper licensing, possibly exposing their employers to huge liabilities. The ESD Alliance event in September promises to address these thorny problems.

Moderated by industry leader Warren Savage – formerly CEO of IPextreme, but now GM of IP at Silvaco with the acquisition announced just prior to DAC – the evening’s two panelists come from interesting backgrounds.

Rob Ballow is Director of KPMG’s U.S. Risk Consulting Advisory Services, a role to which he brings 20+ years working in semiconductors and consumer electronics. Specifically, he’s worked in semiconductor IP and “has been involved in over 350 royalty audits”. Definitely someone who would understand the things that keep IP folks awake at night.

Equally qualified to contribute to the conversation, Eric Stein is Director of PwC’s Forensic Practice and specializes in IP, royalty, contract and channel compliance matters. Stein “has led over 100 compliance and investigative engagements throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe.” Prior to his 13+ years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, he led license compliance programs at NAVTEQ and Wind River/Intel.

Just reading the CVs of Ballow and Stein should be enough to inspire industry observers and IP vendors alike to want to attend the September 14th event. But knowing that Warren Savage will be coordinating the panel makes the evening an absolute must.

Here are some questions I hope the group will address over the course of the evening:

1) How can an IP vendor be sure their products are not being pirated by unscrupulous foundries?

2) How can an IP customer use an IP block with complete certainty that the associated licensing agreement will hold up in court if at a future point, the vendor comes after the user for extraordinary and/or unlicensed IP utilization?

3) How can IP Vendor A be totally sure that rival IP Vendor B will not come after A for perceived IP piracy, if A’s block looks very similar to B’s?

4) What does an IP audit consist of, and who are the responsible parties who open their project files for examination?

5) How can we verify that the auditors themselves are above reproach? Organizations like KPMG and PwC follow nationally established guidelines for financial auditing, but what governing body sets standards for IP auditing? Who audits the auditors?

Whether these questions are specifically addressed on September 14th, it’s still great to see that the ESD Alliance is providing a venue for crucial discourse about issues that frame the IP industry. Kudos to all involved.

You can register to attend here.


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