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Journal Article

Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Automotive Control Units

Intellectual property rights and their protection is a cornerstone of the automotive value chain. The automotive industry is composed by a meshwork of tightly integrated organizations that cooperate and compete in a hierarchical marketplace. Trading know-how and other virtual assets between participants is an essential part of this business. Thereby, software as a medium to transport ideas, innovations, and technologies plays a particular role. Protection of virtual goods and their associated rights is a current issue whose solution will determine how business will be done in the future automotive market. Automotive experts and researchers agree that ICT security technologies are a vital part to implement such a market. In this paper we examine the software life cycle of an automotive Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and discuss potential threats and countermeasures for each stage.