Elgar Commentaries series
Section 6 LAYOUT-DESIGNS (TOPOGRAPHIES) OF INTEGRATED CIRCUITS
At the time of the TRIPS negotiations, the formal protection of ‘layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits’ was considered important; its relevance and importance are no longer so certain. In large part this probably reflects the industry structure, with its potential to achieve the same benefits of protection by other contractual and intellectual property arrangements. However, TRIPS does provide certain minimum requirements and Members must provide for these, albeit that they are open to considerable interpretation. In the US, the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act 1984 first implemented the protection of layout designs of integrated circuits. This sui generis scheme was adopted by the US as patent and copyright alone were considered unsatisfactory. Similar legislation has subsequently been taken up by other developed countries. Around the same time WIPO also convened a Diplomatic Conference to establish some standards. The standards adopted were set out in the Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits (‘IPIC Treaty’) that followed the United States’ sui generis approach while leaving open other forms of protection.
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