Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
The Importance Of Government
In the 1980s the US government came up with a series of initiatives which allowed the US semiconductor industry to avoid annihilation at the hands of the Japanese.
The R&D Tax Credit on 1981 – extended 14 times since and still in force today – allowed US companies to set off a proportion of their R&D expenses against tax.
In 1984, IP protection was given to chip designs. Before 1984 it wasn’t illegal to copy a chip – the layout on an IC could be copied and etched on a mask and made into a chip without any legal redress.
The US Congress saved the situation by passing the Chip Protection Act 1984
In 1985 Micron filed the first anti-dumping case for selling EPROM and DRAM below cost, which was backed up by the 1986 filing by the SIA of anti-dumping charges against the Japanese.
In 1987, the US Imposed $300 million in anti-dumping duties on the Japanese chip manufacturers.
In 1987, Sematech was founded by Charlie Sporck and Bob Noyce backed by $100 million a year from the US government to fund chip R&D.
In 1993, the US was No.1 in semis again and, by 1998, it had over half the world market.
It was a close-run thing, Japan had taken 51% of the world semiconductor market in 1988.
If the US government hadn’t acted throughout the 1980s, there would be little semiconductor industry left in America by mow.Tags: chip protection, eprom, ip protection, micron, sematech