A Guide to Integrated Circuit Topographies (Page 2 of 4)
What can you register?
The protection provided by the Integrated Circuit Topography Act protects the original design of a registered topography whether it is represented in an integrated circuit product or not. Topographies that define only part of the structure needed to perform an electronic function may also be registered. For example, topographies that define generic layers of gate array integrated circuit products, and topographies that define interconnection layers that customize gate array integrated circuit products to perform specific electronic functions, may be registered separately.
A topography is considered original if it is developed through intellectual effort, and is not just a reproduction of all, or a large part, of another topography. The Act does not protect pre-existing topographies that are commonplace among topography designers or integrated circuit product manufacturers.
Why should you register?
The Integrated Circuit Topography Act gives owners of registered topographies exclusive legal rights to control certain actions. Owners of registered topographies can exclude others from:
- reproducing a protected topography or any substantial part of one;
- manufacturing an integrated circuit product incorporating a protected topography or a substantial part of one;
- importing or commercially exploiting (i.e., selling, leasing, offering or exhibiting for sale or lease, or other commercial distribution) a protected topography or a substantial part of one, or an integrated circuit product that embodies a protected topography or a substantial part of one; and
- importing or commercially exploiting an industrial article that incorporates an integrated circuit product that embodies a protected topography or a substantial part of one.
There are exceptions where the exclusive rights to a registered topography are not infringed. For example, it is not an infringement when a person reproduces the topography for the sole purpose of analyzing, researching, or teaching about ICT. Other exceptions are described in subsection 6(2) of the Integrated Circuit Topography Act.
Other forms of protection
Some integrated circuit products, such as random access memories (RAMs) and read-only memories (ROMs), may be used to store sets of instructions for electronic processors. In addition to the protection available for ICTs in such integrated circuits, the sets of instructions they store may be subject to protection under the Copyright Act as literary works, and may in some cases be patentable as industrial methods.
Other aspects of integrated circuit products may also be patentable, for example, the structure and method of operation of electronic circuits embodied in integrated circuit products, or industrial processes used to manufacture integrated circuit products.
Who can apply for registration?
Only the current owner of the topography (who may be the creator or, where the topography has been transferred, the successor in title) may apply for registration of the topography.
When to file an application
The application must be filed within two years of the first commercial exploitation (i.e., sale, lease, offer or exhibit for sale or lease, or other form of distribution for a commercial purpose) of the topography.
How long does registration last?
The Act protects registeredICTs for up to ten years from the filing date of the application for registration. The term ends on December 31 of the tenth year after the year of the first commercial exploitation, or the year of the filing date, whichever came first.
What to consider before filing an application
The Office of the Registrar of Topographies will give you the basic information you need in order to file your own application for ICT registration; however, the Office will not prepare your application.
The Office does not examine a topography to determine originality or compliance with the requirements of the Act. The Registrar of Topographies has authority to reject an application that is incomplete or filed more than two years after the first commercial exploitation, or where the creator does not meet the nationality requirements. For more information on the specifics of nationality requirements, please refer to the Integrated Circuit Topography Act (www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/ict), or consult a legal professional with knowledge in the field.
Consider consulting a legal professional
Drafting an ICT application requires careful attention to detail and knowledge of the regulations. For this reason, you are advised to consult a legal professional who specializes in IP.