What is Semiconductor Counterfeiting
Have you ever gotten that flyer for free e-waste pick up and thought to yourself how wonderful it is that someone wants to help you free up space by taking away that pile of old electronic devices that were sitting in your garage? To think, that you don’t have to spend your Saturday afternoon and gas dragging that junk away. Sure, there is a good feeling about being environmentally conscious, but do you know what happens to your items after they have been hauled away to be “recycled”?
Not unlike stolen cars that end up in a seedy neighborhood chop shop, old and used electronic devices are dissected for their semiconductor components. These components are then re-marked, or counterfeited, to pass off as new or original parts. The parts then get bought and sold through a network of brokers as either independent parts or in sub-assemblies to be incorporated into larger products. While original component manufactures (OCM) have extensive testing for their components before hitting the market, there is relatively little or none done on counterfeit parts which allows for greater profits and thus the appeal to create and traffic them. The result of a product containing these components can be anywhere from a diminished lifespan to the risk of failure that can be costly or fatal depending on the product application.
In August 2013, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF), released a whitepaper in regards to this dilemma titled “Winning the Battle Against Counterfeit Semiconductor Products”. The ACTF is continuously working to diminish the supply and demand for these products.
In January 2010, the Bureau of Industry Security, which is part of the Department of Commerce, published a report that defined a counterfeit electronic part as “one that is not genuine because it: is an unauthorized copy; does not conform to original OCM design, model, or performance standards; is not produced by the OCM or is produced by unauthorized contractors; is an off-specification, defective, or used OCM product sold as “new” or “working”; or has incorrect or false markings or documentation, or both.”