Prosecution of Counterfeit Chip Trafficker Marks Step Forward in Fight Against Semiconductor Counterfeiting

Friday, Jun 06, 2014, 11:00am

by Semiconductor Industry Association

This week, a man named Peter Picone admitted that he sent counterfeit semiconductors to the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Connecticut, where the chips were intended for use in nuclear submarines. Picone pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit military goods. He faces up to 46 months in prison, with sentencing set for Aug. 22.

The case is a stark reminder of the potentially catastrophic dangers associated with counterfeit semiconductors. Fortunately, in the Picone case, the counterfeit chips were identified before they found their way into critical military systems. Next time, we might not be so fortunate. And it’s not just the military that is at risk; counterfeit chips can end up in a wide range of critical consumer, industrial, and medical devices, posing potential dangers to public health and safety.

The threat of counterfeit semiconductors can be greatly reduced by taking one simple, straightforward action: buying semiconductor products either directly from Original Component Manufacturers (OCMs) or their authorized distributors or resellers. SIA has long emphasized the importance of buying from authorized sources, and this was the chief recommendation of SIA’s anti-counterfeiting whitepaper from last year.

A recently finalized Department of Defense (DoD) rule takes an important step in the right direction by implementing needed safeguards in the procurement of semiconductors and other electronic parts used by our military. Non-military purchasers of semiconductor products should follow DoD’s lead and prioritize purchases from authorized sources.

By working together to punish counterfeiters and implement common sense policies like the DoD rule, we can stem the tide of counterfeit semiconductor products and help ensure the safety of technologies that are vital to America’s economic and national security.