Silicon Investigations Patent and Intellectual Property Services

We have extensive experience with helping companies and their attorneys defend their patents and trade secrets against infringement and counter claims.  We have worked closely with some of the most renound law firms litigating patents for some of the largest companies in the semiconductor industry.

Typically, a party (other than the patentee or licensee of the patentee) that manufactures, imports, uses, sells, or offers for sale patented technology without permission/license from the patentee, during the term of the patent and within the country that issued the patent, is considered to be infringing on the patent.  Additionally, for counterfeit parts (parts where a company, usually in China, copies the actual mask images of the semiconductor die and makes unauthorized copies of a chip), there can be copyright infringement also, as semiconductor masks are protected under copyright law.

It requires that the infringing party's product falls within one or more of the claims of the patent. The process employed involves "reading" a claim onto the technology of interest. If all of the claim's elements are found in the technology, the claim is said to "read on" the technology; if a single element from the claim is missing from the technology, the claim does not literally read on the technology and the technology does not infringe the patent with respect to that claim.

In response to allegations of patent infringement, an accused infringing party will generally assert one or more of the following:

  • it was not practicing the patented invention;
  • it was not performing any infringing act in the territory covered by the patent;
  • the patent has expired;
  • the patent (or the particular claim(s) alleged to be infringed) is invalid, because the invention in question does not meet pantentability or includes a formal defect, rendering the patent invalid or unenforceable;
  • it has obtained a license under the patent;
  • the patent holder is infringing on patent rights belonging to the accused infringing party, and the party may resolve the dispute in settlement or cross licensing.

Indirect infringement:

In certain jurisdictions, there is a particular case of patent infringement called "indirect infringement." Indirect infringement can occur, for instance, when a device is claimed in a patent and a third party supplies a product which can only be reasonably used to make the patented device.

Trade Secrets:

When it comes to trade secrets, there are differences in the litigation from that of patent infringement. Trade secrets are more closely held than patents, as they are invaluable in keeping your products competitive without the public disclosure of  a patent.  Generally, trade secrets must be actively guarded by the owning company. If a trade secret can be deduced by reverse engineering a product, then it lies within the public domain.

Reverse engineering is useful when studying patented products in an attempt to develop a more thorough understanding of the relevant art in order to create superior products. The processes of studying publicly disclosed inventions and of attempting to create superior products are the very reason for the Constitutionally created protections for reverse engineering.

If an individual or corporation is accused of stealing trade secrets, a viable defense is that the secret is readily obtainable by reverse engineering.  This can take many forms, from the reverse engineering of an integrated circuit, to a chemical analysis of a competitors proprietary formulation of a plastic solvent.

At Silicon Investigations, we can look at the product or process of the alleged infringement and determine if the device/process contains the infringing elements.  This can be a complicated process, depending on the claim, but generally encompasses our reverse engineering experience along with the tools at our disposal.

For additional information about how we work with integrated circuits and printed circuit boards, please see our reverse engineering page.  For information about extracting or exposing the semiconductor die from integrated circuits, please see our decapsulation page.

For more information on how we can assist you, please contact us.

Last Modified May 29, 2020
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