Software for chip companies : an analysis and strategies to build software IP



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Software plays an important role in making products usable. We couldn’t imagine a laptop without software that run it making the things it does possible with the laptop hardware. Software has penetrated into several industries making significant contribution in how the products are designed and to make them more usable. This thesis focuses on semiconductor industry and analyzes the role played by software to enhance their products and differentiate them from competition. In this context, the thesis looks at acquisition of software companies by chip companies and analyzes them to determine the benefits and how it changed the market space.

In a semiconductor company, the focus is predominantly on hardware. Although software is equally crucial to the success of the product, not much focus is placed on it in terms of innovation and building sustained software IP portfolio. One of the questions that this thesis tries to answer is how to build a robust software IP portfolio in a chip company. Case studies of different products were conducted to analyze their IP building strategies in general and focusing specifically on software patenting in terms number of patents filed and procedures adopted to encourage it. It looks closely at the best and not-so-best practices adopted by the teams and analyzing them to determine why certain initiatives succeeded while others failed.

A crucial aspect of building software IP pipeline is to involve junior level engineers in this process. The thesis looks at some of the strategies companies could use to bring the culture of patents to the lowest levels of engineers. Typically the senior engineers are well tuned in to the process and regularly file patents while the junior engineers don’t. This is crucial to the company since today’s junior engineer is tomorrow’s senior engineer leading technology initiatives. The thesis concludes by putting forward recommendations to encourage software patenting.