Somehow I have to get up early every day this week, today is a 8a.m. patent review meeting. I was asked to sit in the meeting to review two verification related the patent application from Israel. Verification related IP is really hard to patent, it is not that we are not innovative. The problem is there is no way for us to enforce our patent. We see our competitors’ chips, but we don’t know how they verify their chips. They can do pretty much whatever they want behind closed door. In the past few years, we start to see 3rd party verification IP on the market. Verification IP is just software, so it falls into the same category as software patents, which is different from the hardware patent my company familiar with.
Anyways, the Israel guys presents two patents application to the patent committee. I was asked to review the initial patent application as one of the few “verification experts” in the company. Helping the lawyers to determine whether the idea is patent worthy. We have to examine the application base on whether it is new, whether it is trivial and whether the patent is enforceable. If the patent in question is truly innovative, it will worth the trouble for me to get up early, but it is exactly the opposite. The Israel guys are trying to patent an idea we have been using over 3 years in Vancouver. This idea is so good that we even asked Cadence for feature enhancement to put it into their verification tool. Actually, the idea is already implemented in the latest tool release. The Israel guys must be living in a cave, it seems they are so out of touch with the latest verification technology. Even if this idea is patentable, there is no way for us to enforce the patent. We will never know other companies copying our way or not. The only company we will ever see any infringement is from Cadence. It is the last thing you would sue your tool vendor, when there are only two companies on earth making the tools of your trade. Reviewing the patent itself is a total waste of time, I can’t believe some one is dumb enough trying to apply for a patent on this piece of antique. However, it is an interesting experience to attend a patent review meeting.