introducing PUF patents from large semiconductor companies, increasing growth potential
Justin J. Lee, CEO of ICTK
[Datanet] Patents are called 'windows to the future'. The most advanced technologies and ideas of mankind are condensed in patents. So, through patent big data, we can organize various technical difficulties facing our society and find the clue to the answer.
Looking at Figure 1, which shows domestic smart home-related patent applications by year, it has been unable to escape the rapid decline since the mid-2000s. There is also an effect that government-led support projects such as the home network pilot project have been gradually reduced at the time, but a large part is due to the immaturity of related infrastructure environments such as security and network. Considering that most of the patents filed later are focused on 'security', the reason becomes clearer.
Among them, we should pay attention to the security technology called PUF (Physical Unclonable Functions). The gist of this technology is to use the error between products that naturally occurs in the semiconductor production process like a person's 'fingerprint' and replace it with a non-replicable security measure. This deviation, which could be a kind of defect in the process, was used as a random number value.
The chip is an essential part of all IoT devices. Unlike existing software security programs, PUF uses special physical patterns that appear during the chip manufacturing process, that is, semiconductor fingerprints, as a key value, making hacking itself nearly impossible.
Related patent applications are also increasing rapidly every year. According to the US Patent Office, PUF-related US patents have been increasing at an average annual rate of more than 60% in recent years. Above all, the number of 'examiner citations', which measures the quality of patents, exceeds the number of applications and is showing a steeper increase. This is a point that allows you to guess the technical excellence of PUF.
In December 2020, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) officially established an international standard for PUF. It is in the same context that global top-tier IT companies are also choosing PUF as their IoT platform security standard.
Figure 3 is a trading network of US patents related to PUF technology, which has recently been increasing rapidly. Noteworthy is IBM. It can be seen that active IP business is being conducted in the European and American markets, centering on the PUF patented products transferred by IBM. Currently, most PUF patents in the global IP market are owned by chip makers. All of them are companies that dominate the global semiconductor market.
As such, patent big data has the power to unravel the complicatedly entangled technical contents in patent documents, such as claims, by storytelling them in the language of the time. This will allow us to take a step closer to the objective implications and future value of the technology.