Is it true that manufacturers imprint device markings (i.e. Manufacturer's P/N/ID) on some inner layer(s) inside the device in addition to the marking on the outer surface packaging of ICs? If so, how deep/difficult is it to reveal via basic grinding/etching processes?
On some of our products' PCB assemblies, we have been applying an IC obfuscation (i.e. laser etching) process on all ICs in addition to potting (i.e. conformal coating) for intellectual property purposes.
The main objective of this process is to eliminate all device markings visible on the top surface of all ICs that would serve as defense against 'low-level copycats' from duplicating our design (i.e. what type/brand of IC used in the circuit,etc.) and then make it harder for them by conformal coating the whole PCB assembly.
I am aware that every product could be reverse-engineered on some level. However, If we could keep these 'low-level copycats' at bay, then we can focus on having a case against the 'big-time' ones.
Therefore, we need to investigate if both the etching and coating process is effective in ensuring that there is a high level of difficulty and/or cost involved for the 'low-level copycats' to duplicate our designs.
If there are device markings hidden inside ICs, then 'digging deeper' would reveal the devices' identity - the only question is how deep/difficult it is.
If anybody can confirm/has done experimentations with regard to this issue, kindly share your results/suggestions.
Thanks and Regards,
Yes, we typically put the part number visible on the die. So, it is conceivable that someone could decap the package and see the part number. You need some pretty serious acid to etch thru the epoxy we use in the body of the packages, but it can be done.
Audio Applications Engineering Manager
Dallas, TX USA
All content and materials on this site are provided "as is". TI and its respective suppliers and providers of content make no representations about the suitability of these materials for any purpose and disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to these materials, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement of any third party intellectual property right. TI and its respective suppliers and providers of content make no representations about the suitability of these materials for any purpose and disclaim all warranties and conditions with respect to these materials. No license, either express or implied, by estoppel or otherwise, is granted by TI. Use of the information on this site may require a license from a third party, or a license from TI.
TI is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company. Innovate with 100,000+ analog ICs andembedded processors, along with software, tools and the industry’s largest sales/support staff.