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Integrated circuit layout design

Introduction to registration of integrated circuit layout-design

In order to protect the exclusive rights in layout-design of Integrated circuits, The State Council of China adopted the Regulations on the Protection of Layout-Design of Integrated Circuits on April 2, 2001, which came into force on October 1, 2001.

The layout-designs of integrated circuits shall be listed as protected objects in these Regulations, specifically the three-dimensional configurations of two or more active components and part or all of the interconnecting lines, or the aforesaid three-dimensional configurations prepared for the manufacture of integrated circuits, in which at least one integrated circuit consists.

The exclusive right in a layout-design belongs to the layout-design creator. Where a layout-design is created under the auspices of and under the will of a legal person or other organization and under the responsibility of a legal person or other organization, the legal person or other organization shall be the creator. Where a layout-design is created by a natural person, the natural person is the creator. Where two or more natural persons, legal persons or other organizations jointly create a layout-design, the ownership of the exclusive rights shall be agreed upon by the collaborators; If no agreement is made or the agreement is unclear, the exclusive rights shall be jointly enjoyed by the partners. Where a layout-design is commissioned, the ownership of the exclusive rights shall be agreed upon by the commissioning party and the commissioning party. If no agreement is made or the agreement is unclear, the exclusive rights shall be enjoyed by the agent.

The term of protection of the layout-design exclusive right shall be 10 years, counting from the date of application for registration of the layout-design or the date on which the layout-design is first put into commercial exploitation anywhere in the world, whichever is the earlier. However, no matter whether it is registered or put into commercial exploitation, a layout-design is no longer protected by these Regulations after 15 years from the date of completion of its creation.

The exclusive rights in a layout-design shall be generated by registration with the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council. Unregistered layout-designs shall not be protected by these Regulations. Where a layout-design fails to file an application for registration with the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council within 2 years from the date of its first commercial exploitation anywhere in the world, the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council shall not register it.

In order to obtain layout-design registration of integrated circuits in China, a foreign applicant must entrust a Chinese agent to file an application for registration with the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council of the People's Republic of China. Our firm can represent Chinese or foreign applicants for integrated circuit layout-design registration and other matters.

Layout-registration process

1. Application Stage:

(1) Layout-design registration application form;

(2) a copy or drawing of a layout-design;

(3) Where a layout-design has been put into commercial exploitation, a sample of integrated circuit incorporating the layout-design shall be submitted;

(4) Other materials as stipulated by the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council.

2. Review Stage:

Where an application for layout-design registration is found to have no cause for rejection after preliminary examination, the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council shall register it, issue a certificate of registration and publish it.

3. Follow-up procedures:

Where an applicant for layout-design registration is not satisfied with the decision of the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council rejecting his application for registration, he may, within three months from the date of receipt of the notification, request the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council for a reexamination. The intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council shall, after reexamination, make a decision and notify the layout-design applicant. Where the layout-design registration applicant is still dissatisfied with the reexamination decision made by the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council, he may institute legal proceedings in the people's court within 3 months from the date of receipt of the notification.

Where the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council finds that the registration of a layout-design is not in conformity with the provisions of these Regulations, it shall cancel the registration, notify the holder of right of the layout-design and make an announcement. Where the holder of right of a layout-design is not satisfied with the decision made by the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council to revoke the layout-design registration, he may institute legal proceedings in the people's court within 3 months from the date of receipt of the notification.

Legal protection

Without the permission of the holder of right of a layout-design, the person who commits any of the following acts must immediately stop the infringing act and bear the liability for compensation:

(1) reproducing the whole or any original part of a protected layout-design;

(2) importing, selling or otherwise providing for commercial purposes a protected layout-design, integrated circuit incorporating a layout-design or article incorporating an integrated circuit.

The amount of compensation for infringement of the exclusive rights of the layout-design shall be the benefits obtained by the infringer or the losses suffered by the infringed, including the reasonable expenses paid by the infringed to stop the infringement.

Where a dispute arises from the exploitation of a layout-design without the permission of the holder of right of the layout-design, that is, infringement of the exclusive right of the layout-design, the parties concerned shall settle it through consultation; Where the consultation fails or the consultation fails, the holder of right of the layout-design or the interested party may bring a suit before the people's court or request the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council to handle the matter. The intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council may, when determining that an infringing act is established, order the infringer to stop the infringing act immediately and confiscate or destroy the infringing products or articles. If the party is dissatisfied, it may, within 15 days from the date of receipt of the notice of disposition, institute legal proceedings in the People's Court in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China. Where the infringer neither brings a suit nor stops the infringing act at the expiration of the time limit, the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council may request the people's court for compulsory execution. At the request of the parties, the intellectual property administrative authority under The State Council may mediate the amount of compensation for the infringement of the layout-design exclusive rights. If mediation fails, the parties may bring a suit in a People's court in accordance with the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China.

Where the holder of right of a layout-design or an interested party has evidence to prove that another person is carrying out or is about to carry out an act infringing upon his exclusive rights and that his lawful rights and interests will suffer irreparable damage if not stopped in time, he may, before bringing a suit, apply to the people's court for measures to order him to stop the relevant act and preserve property.

Where an integrated circuit incorporating a protected layout-design or an article incorporating an integrated circuit is obtained and is put into commercial exploitation without knowing or having reasonable grounds to know that the integrated circuit contains an illegally copied layout-design, it shall not be regarded as an infringement.

After receiving a clear notice that the layout-design contains an illegally reproduced layout-design, the actor in the preceding paragraph may continue to put the existing inventory or the previous order into commercial exploitation, provided that he shall pay a reasonable remuneration to the holder of right of the layout-design.

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