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The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Designs - IPR Toolkit

A semiconductor integrated circuit is a product having transistors and other circuitry elements, which are inseparably formed on a semiconductor material or an insulating material or inside the semiconductor material and designed to perform an electronic circuitry function. In India, the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000 (hereinafter known as the "Act"), along with the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits-Layout Design Rules, 2001, is the prevailing law. Registering the layout-design under the Act gives the rights holder the exclusive right to the layout-design and to obtain relief in respect of infringement.

Layout-designs are prohibited from registration under the Act if they are as follows:

  • Not original;
  • Have been commercially exploited anywhere in India or in a Convention country i.e. any country that the Government of India notifies in the Official Gazette for the fulfillment of a treaty, convention or an arrangement with any country outside India and which affords to citizens of India similar privileges as are granted to its own citizens;
  • Not inherently distinctive;
  • Not inherently capable of being distinguishable from any other registered layout-design.

Any person who is claiming to be the creator of a layout-design and who is interested in registering it has to apply in writing to the Registrar. The Registrar may refuse the application or may accept it fully or subject to amendments. Within fourteen days from the date of acceptance, the Registrar will advertise the application. Within three months from the date of the advertisement of the application, any person may oppose the application by providing written notice and a fee to the Registrar. After hearing the parties and examining the evidence, the Registrar will decide the opposition.

If the application has been accepted and not opposed, or if opposed and the opposition has been decided in the favor of the Applicant, then the Registrar will register the layout-design. This registration is valid for a term of ten years from the date of filing an application for registration or from the date of first commercial exploitation anywhere in the world, whichever is earlier.  

A registered layout-design is infringed by a person who, not being the registered proprietor of the layout-design or a registered user thereof,

  • Does any act of reproducing, whether by incorporating in a semiconductor integrated circuit or otherwise, a registered layout-design in its entirety or any part thereof; or
  • Does any act of importing or selling or otherwise distributing for commercial purposes a registered layout-design or a semiconductor integrated circuit incorporating such registered layout-design or an article incorporating such a semiconductor integrated circuit containing such registered layout-design for the use of which such person is not entitled.

The Act also provides for the rectification and correction of the Register. Any person who is aggrieved by the absence or omission from the Register of any entry or by an entry made in the Register without sufficient cause, or by an entry remaining on the Register wrongly, or by an error or defect in any entry in the Register, may apply to the Appellate Board or to the Registrar to expunge the entry. The Registrar or the Appellate Board may expunge or vary the entry as it may think fit.

Infringement of a layout-design is considered to be a criminal offence in India. Any person who has infringed is liable to be punished by imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years or by fine of more than INR fifty thousand (approximately $1,250) but less than INR ten lakhs (approximately $25,000) or both.                        

Legislation and Regulation in India

The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000
The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits-Layout Design Rules, 2001

International Treaties to which India is a signatory

Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits

Layout-designs related links


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