Integrated Circuit Layout
Circuit layouts are usually highly complex and the intellectual effort in creating an original layout may be considerable and of great value. An integrated circuit or chip made from the plans is the key to the operation of all kinds of electronic devices, from heart pacemakers to personal computers. Circuit layout rights automatically protect original layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips. While these rights are based on copyright law principles they are a separate, unique form of protection. There is no requirement for registration for the granting of rights to the owner of a layout design. The owner of an original circuit layout has exclusive right to:
- Copy the layout in a material form
- Make integrated circuits from the layout
- Exploit it commercially
The maximum possible protection period is 20 years from the year of making an eligible layout. Accordingly, rights in an original layout subsist for 10 years from the first commercial exploitation, provided this occurs within 10 years from creation of the layout or 10 years from the year in which it was made, if not commercially exploited. Design not exploited commercially for more than 2
years from date of registration of application shall be treated as commercially exploited for the purpose of this Act.