P. Casey and M. Pecht
CALCE Electronic Products and Systems Center
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Successfully implementing a transition from tin-lead to lead-free solders requires surmounting technical difficulties, but more is required for widespread use. There are numerous social and political pressures that develop. In addition, the number of patents making lead-free solder compositions proprietary has been increasing rapidly since the mid 1990's. As the amount of intellectual property rises, so too does the complexity and coverage of the claims. This paper presents an overview of the technical status and remaining lead-free technical issues, the current socio-political trends, and the existing patents, including which compositions are protected, and how infringement on lead-free intellectual property rights may be difficult to avoid.
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