Layout Design

Intellectual Property Rights have been defined as the rights which were introduced for protecting the original and authentic creations. Initially, the rights were limited for providing protection to the copyrights, patents, and trademarks which further extended their protection to the industrial designs and geographical indications. Henceforth, with the advancement in the fields of technology and development, there was also a revolution in the fields of Information Technology, which led to the introduction of a new regime namely the layout designs or the semiconductor integrated circuits. Integrated circuits form an essential element for the wide range of electrical products such as computer processors, watches, televisions, watch sets, and other digital services. Simultaneously, the layout designs also referred to as topographies have been defined as the three-dimensional marks prepared for the integrated circuits with the purpose of manufacturing.

Initially, there were no statutes for providing protection to the layout designs, but it was with the introduction of Trips when the designs were recognized and were provided protection under Articles 35 to 38 i.e., Section 6 of Part II of the Trips Agreement. Article 35 has mandated that the member states must take steps for protecting the layout designs. Henceforth, India in compliance with the rules of the Trips Agreement introduced and enforced the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Designs Act, 2000, with the primary intent of providing protection to the layout designs. Some of the basic features of the Act can be highlighted below:

i.The application for the registration of layout design has to be filed under Section 8 of the Act, and the design to be registered has to have the essentials of structure, technique, and functionality, and must also be different from the already registered designs. The layout designs can only be registered by the registry if they are original, have not been commercially exploited, and have qualities of distinctiveness. The registration of a layout design is mandatory.

ii.The registration of the layout designs would provide protection for a period of 10 years to the layout design.

iii.The registration of a layout design would provide the rights of exclusivity to the original owner, i.e., he can use the designs at his own convenience and can also sue the person, if the person is found to be illegally using the design for the offenses of infringement.

Henceforth, it can be concluded by stating that the act has appropriately excluded the registration of certain types of designs that do not have the elements of originality and authenticity. With the enforcement of the Act related to layout designs, India slowly seems to emerge as a significant player in the global semiconductor industry.