Circuit layout rights

Circuit layout rights automatically protect original layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips.

While these rights are based on copyright law principles, they are a separate, unique form of protection.

What is a circuit layout?

Circuit layouts are the layout designs or plans (topographies) of integrated circuits used in computer-generated equipment. They are sometimes referred to as computer chip or semi-conductor chip designs.

A circuit layout is a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional location of electronic components in an integrated circuit.

Circuit layouts are usually highly complex and the intellectual effort in creating them is considerable and may be of great value. An integrated circuit or chip made from a layout is vital in all kinds of electronic devices, from pacemakers to personal computers.

Circuit layout rights are administered by the Attorney-General's Department.

Protecting a circuit layout

If you are the owner of a layout design, you are not required to register it to be granted rights.

As the owner of an original circuit layout, you have the exclusive right to:

  • copy the layout in a material form
  • make integrated circuits from the layout
  • exploit it commercially in Australia

Commercial exploitation may occur by importation, sale, hire or distribution of a layout or an integrated circuit made according to the layout.

How long does protection last?

From the first commercial exploitation, rights continue for 10 years. The first commercial exploitation must occur within 10 years of creation of the layout, or 10 years from when it was made. So the maximum possible protection period is 20 years from the year of making an eligible layout.

Last Updated: 23/11/2013

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Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

Policy Officer -  International Policy & Cooperation
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