SAN FRANCISCO Cadence Design Systems Executive Chairman Ray Bingham said he believes that Chinese companies are just beginning to embrace the concept of respect for intellectual property (IP), something he believes is critical to that country's continued emergence as a dominant player in the global electronics industry.
In an interview with EE Times Tuesday (April 5), Bingham said that he perceives that China is at the very beginning stages of accepting the importance of IP protection. He expressed hope that China would overcome this issue sooner rather than later.
"I feel very confident that this issue will eventually be overcome," he said. "The question is how much damage will be done if this takes a lot longer."
Bingham noted that weariness about China's willingness to respect IP is similar to skepticism about Taiwan's ability to protect IP when that country's electronics industry was emerging. He said it took 10 years for Taiwan to overcome this skepticism, something he believes was detrimental to its burgeoning high-tech development.
Bingham expressed hope that China would overcome this issue faster than Taiwan did and that Chinese companies would begin recognizing the value of IP protection as they became more established in the global electronics industry.
"I believe that it starts with China recognizing that it is in its own interest to protect IP," Bingham said. "If you are a technologist, the minute that you own your own IP, you care violently that people respect it."
Bingham expressed respect for the Chinese electronic industry's position, saying that China has become more important than India to the overall global electronics industry because China "got out of the blocks quicker," even though India actually had a head start. He credited China for targeting the entire electronics industry, rather than just one segment.
"China has set its sights on creating an electronics economy, not just manufacturing," Bingham said. "We've been moving manufacturing to low cost sights for 200 years. But China is looking at the entire electronics chain. That's how you create a sustainable economy, using the model of the Silicon Valley."
The interview was conducted a few days after Bingham called on China's semiconductor industry to work collaboratively to ensure the protection of IP in a keynote address delivered to Chinese high-tech professionals working in North America.
In the address, delivered April 2 to attendees of the 9th Annual North America Chinese Semiconductor Association Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., Bingham applauded China's potential to be a significant player in every segment of the electronics design chain, but warned that without adequate IP protection, investors would "look elsewhere as India and Russia compete for the same investment dollars," according to a transcript of the more-than-3,000-word speech.
Bingham pointed to China, India, Russia and Brazil as countries with the potential to become the world's economic powerhouses of the next 40 years, elaborating on the political and economic forces creating this potential, including the large consumer markets and the emergence of the middle class in these countries, the transcript said. He drew comparisons between what is happening in these countries today and the development of the Silicon Valley in the 1950s and 60s, saying that because of the dynamic nature of the modern semiconductor industry, these countries, "don't have to go through all of the development stages that the Silicon Valley had to."
Bingham singled out China as the most advanced of these four countries, calling China "the world's manufacturer" and saying that the country has the opportunity to leverage its manufacturing expertise to build a semiconductor industry.
According to the transcript, Bingham's address also noted that IC design starts are growing in China, India and Russia, calling these countries an alternative to the U.S., Japan and Europe for chip design. Bingham pointed to lower design costs, proximity to manufacturing and proximity to vast consumer markets as the primary factors behind this trend, the transcript said.