Is it legal to reverse engineer my own design?
Yes, it is considered good security practice to place your own design under test, recover a design back to source code for functional comparison, security assurance and deeper technical understanding.
Can Deep Lift be used to understand third party designs?
Yes, it is legal under U.S. Law to use reverse engineering methods for understanding. In fact, under certain circumstances, it is the only method available during legal cases to determine whether a chip violates another party's patents. Using Deep Lift for technical understanding is allowable under federal law.
Does Deep Lift allow access to hardware trade secrets?
Yes, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) prohibits misappropriation of trade secrets by acquiring them through improper means, such as theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach, or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, or espionage through electronic or other means. The DTSA further declares that use of reverse engineering is not an improper means. However, combining a legal method such as Deep Lift with an illegal method such as theft whereby Deep Lift is used to analyze stolen material is strictly not allowed.
Can Deep Lift be used to discover stolen or counterfeit IP?
Yes, once IP is integrated into an FPGA, it is often difficult to detect stolen IP without enormous expense and time. Furthermore, counterfeiters may insert a low percentage of fake chips to evade detection. In both these cases, Deep Lift offers a capability to extract a design and perform an authenticity comparison with the original part.
Is Deep Lift useful for legacy modernization?
Yes, a legacy part is typically not made anymore. Low volume parts, such as aerospace and defense parts that must be sustained are particularly susceptible to diminishing supply and all the problems that entails. With older parts, the original designs may be lost, and the original teams and companies may no longer exist. In cases like this, restoring the chip design back to high level code that can be improved to modern standards and retargeted to new processes is a best outcome.