A Guide to Integrated Circuit Topographies (Page 1 of 4)
Purpose of this guide
This guide looks at what integrated circuit topographies (ICTs) are and how to register them. It is designed to give you the basic information necessary to protect your ICTs from being copied by others.
For more detailed information, consult the Integrated Circuit Topography Act and the Integrated Circuit Topography Regulations, available online at www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/ict. The CIPO Client Service Centre can also provide further information.
The glossary provides definitions of terms used in this guide.
Who we are
The Office of the Registrar of Topographies is responsible for registering ICTs in Canada, and is part of CIPO, an agency of Industry Canada. CIPO is also responsible for most other intellectual property (IP) rights, including patents, trade-marks, copyright and industrial designs.
The main functions of the Office of the Registrar of Topographies are to:
- receive applications for registration of ICTs;
- grant registrations to qualifying applications;
- receive and record assignments of ICTs; and
- provide general information to the public about ICT registrations.
Visit the Integrated Circuit Topographies section of the website for the following:
- instructions on getting started;
- legislation, including the Integrated Circuit Topographies Act and Integrated Circuit Topographies Regulations; and
- online and printable forms, including the application for registration.
CIPO's Client Service Centre (CSC) is the central point of contact for clients wishing to communicate with CIPO. The CSC supplies information on a variety of subjects, such as procedures for filing patent applications and for registering trade-marks, copyrights, industrial designs, and ICT's.
Intellectual property information officers deliver numerous services, including providing information, asnwering general enquiries, and guiding clients with seraches through various databases.
At the heart of modern technology
The growing presence of integrated circuit technology in virtually all fields of industry has created the need to protect Canadian innovations in this technology both nationally and internationally.
On May l, 1993, the Integrated Circuit Topography Act and Integrated Circuit Topography Regulations came into force. The Act defines the protection available for ICTs, the three-dimensional configurations of the materials that form integrated circuits. Protection under this Act is extended to people of other countries on a reciprocal basis, making protection in other countries available to Canadians.
What is an ICT?
Semiconductor integrated circuits are at the heart of modern technology, communications, entertainment, manufacturing, medical and space technologies, and also are now found in items as ordinary as household appliances. The Integrated Circuit Topography Act and Integrated Circuit Topography Regulations refer to "microchips," a form of integrated circuit, as "integrated circuit products."
Today's integrated circuit products are constructed from a complex series of layers of semiconductors, metals, dielectrics (insulators) and other materials on a substrate. The Act and Regulations refer to the three-dimensional configurations of these layers as "integrated circuit topography." The Act provides protection against copying of registered topographies, but does not prevent others from developing integrated circuit products that use other topographies to provide the same electronic functions.
People occasionally confuse ICTs with patents, trade-marks, copyright, or industrial designs. Like ICTs, the latter are rights granted for intellectual creativity and are forms of IP.
- Integrated circuit topographies refer to the three-dimensional configurations of the electronic circuits in integrated circuit products or layout designs.
- Patents cover new inventions (process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter) or any new and useful improvement of existing inventions.
- Trade-marks are words, symbols or designs (or any combination of these) used to distinguish the wares or services of one person or organization from those of others in the marketplace.
- Copyright provide protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works (including computer programs) and three other subject matter: performance, sound recording and communication signal.
- Industrial designs are the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament (or any combination of these) applied to a finished manufactured article.