IP rights and semiconductors
Produced in partnership with David Cran of RPC and Sophie Tuson of RPC
IP rights and semiconductors

The following IP practice note produced in partnership with David Cran of RPC and Sophie Tuson of RPC provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • IP rights and semiconductors
  • Background to semiconductors
  • Semiconductor topography rights
  • What is protected?
  • Protection of a layer
  • Qualification
  • Ownership
  • Term of protection
  • Infringement
  • Other forms of protection
  • More...

Background to semiconductors

A semiconductor is essentially any material which has electrical conductivity and can thus either conduct, or conversely, block, the flow of electrical current.

Semiconductor chips, found, for example, in computers, mobile phones and microwave ovens, are generally made using circular wafers of silicon.

IP rights exist in order to protect the semiconductor industry, including electronic circuit boards and the component chips.

Semiconductor topography rights

The semiconductor topography right is an additional right to unregistered design law, intended to protect a specific industrial article, namely, as set out above, the electronic circuit board and the arrangement of semiconductors.

The semiconductor topography right was introduced into UK law by the Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989, SI 1989/1100 (which implemented European Directive 87/54/EC). Where a design is a semiconductor topography (see below), under the Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989, the design right provisions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) apply subject to modifications made by the Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989. Amendments and updates have been made to the Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989 by subsequent statutory instruments.

The Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/1052, which came into force on 31 January 2020 (at the end of the Brexit transition period), is the latest amendment to the Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989. It narrow the rules

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