According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, integrated circuits, commonly known as “chips” or “micro chips” are the electronic circuits in which all the components (transistors, diodes and resistors) have been assembled in a certain order on the surface of a thin semiconductor material (usually silicon). The creation of an original layout design of an integrated circuit is usually the result of great financial and technical investment and as such, it warrants a separate intellectual property protection system.
The rights of a protected layout design’s owner are infringed where the design is reproduced in whole or in part or commercially imported, sold or distributed without authorization. Reproduction for private evaluation, research or teaching is allowed. Other exceptions are outlined in the Act.
National rules and regulations related to protection of layout design protection are currently being considered.
A registered layout design is protected for ten years after:
- The date of first commercial exploitation where it had already been exploited no more than two years prior to application for registration; Or
- The application filing date where the layout design was not commercially exploited prior to the application