Quantum computing is an emerging computing paradigm that is expected to offer decisive advantages for critical applications. The design flow of quantum circuits poses problematic security challenges in the presence of variable errors and limited resources (qubits) to support error correction. Yet, quantum computers can be very powerful for several applications if proper hardware/software approaches are deployed.
In the current embodiment, quantum circuits are expected to be used for several applications including financial analysis and machine learning in which a designer wants to protect the Intellectual Property (IP) of the quantum circuits. In this paper, we propose a watermarking approach for quantum circuits, which embeds a secret signature during the decomposition phase to verify the ownership of the IP. We evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approach using Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm (QAOA) used for solving a Max-Cut problem.