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Frequently Asked Question on Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000

ACT MATTERS

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REGISTRY MATTERS

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APPELLATE BOARD MATTERS

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GENERAL

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1. What is the aim of the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design (SICLD) Act, 2000?

The aim of the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act 2000 is to provide protection of Intellectual Property Right (IPR) in the area of Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Layout Designs and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

2. What is the present status of the SICLD Act 2000?

The SICLD Act 2000 was Gazetted on the 4 th September 2000 (Part II-Section I, No. 46 ). The rules under the Act have been Gazetted on December 11, 2001 ( Part II. Section 3 , No 615) . The Act is being implemented in stages. Sections 3 and 5 of the Act have been brought to force w.e.f. 1.5.2004. Setting up of a Registry with jurisdiction all over India for registering the IPR applications in Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Layout-Designs is in progress at the following address:

Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry (SICLDR)
Room No. 3014-3015
Electronics Niketan
Department of Information Technology
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
6 CGO Complex,
Lodi Road New Delhi-110 003.
Ph: +91-11-24301405/905
Telefax: +91-1124361464

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3. What is meant by Semiconductor Integrated Circuit?

Semiconductor Integrated Circuit means a product having transistors and other circuitry elements, which are inseparably formed on a semiconductor material or an insulating material or inside the semiconductor material and designed to perform an electronic circuitry function.

4. What is meant by the Layout-Design of a Semiconductor Integrated Circuit?

The layout-design of a semiconductor integrated circuit means a layout of transistors and other circuitry elements and includes lead wires connecting such elements and expressed in any manner in semiconductor integrated circuits.

5. Where is the SICLD Act 2000 applicable?

This Act is applicable for IC Layout-Design IPR applications filed at the Registry in India .

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6. What are the major provisions contained in the SICLD Act, 2000?

  • Jurisdiction to the whole of India
  • SICLD Registry as the front end - where the layout-designs of integrated circuit chips can be registered
  • Defines layout-designs of integrated circuits which can be registered under the Act
  • Defines duration of registration of layout-designs
  • Defines rights conferred by registration
  • Defines matters of infringement of layout-designs
  • Defines procedures for assignment and transmission of registered layout- design
  • Provides for registered users for using registered layout-design
  • Provides for an Appellate Board as a forum of redressal
  • Treatment of Royalties
  • Provides for provisions in matter of national emergency or extreme public urgency
  • Specifies penalty in case of :
    • infringement of layout-design
    • falsely representing a layout-design as registered
    • improperly describing a place of business
    • falsification of entries in the register
    • forfeiture of goods
    • offences by companies
  • Provision for agents
  • Reciprocity provision with other recognized countries

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7. How can SICLD Act serve?

The main focus of SICLD Act is to provide for routes and mechanism for protection of IPR in Chip Layout Designs created and matters related to it as brought out under Q6.

8. What are the criteria for Registration of a Chip Layout Design?

A Layout design that is:

  • Original
  • Not commercially exploited anywhere in India or convention /reciprocal country
  • Inherently distinctive
  • Inherently capable of being capable of being distinguishable from any other
  • registered layout design.

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9. Can one protect/register under the SICLD Act any idea, procedure, process, method of operation, any information stored in the Integrated Circuits?

No, " Only the Layout-Design " - which essentially is the mask layout- floor planning of the integrated circuits can be registered under the SICLD Act 2000 and not the other information like any idea, procedure, process, system, programme stored in the integrated circuit, method of operation etc.

10. What are the rights conferred on the registered proprietor of the Layout-Design?

The SICLD Act empowers the registered proprietor of the layout-design an inherent right to use the layout-design, commercially exploit it and obtain relief in respect of any infringement.

11. Can a IC Layout-Design be jointly registered under the Act?

Yes, the Act allows two or more persons as joint proprietors of a layout-design. Refer Section 14 of Act .

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12. Do all layout-designs of integrated circuits qualify for registration under SICLD Act, 2000?

No. Only the layout-designs created by the creators through own intellectual efforts and commonly not known to the creators at the time of creation; or inherently distinctive from other registered layout-designs or have not been commercially exploited in India; or a convention country for more than two (2) years can be registered under the Act. For full details refer Section 7 of Act.

13. What is meant by the commercial exploitation in relation to semiconductor integrated circuits Layout-Design?

Commercial exploitation implies acts such as sell, lease, offer or exhibit for sale or otherwise distribute such semiconductor integrated circuit for commercial purpose.

14. What is the duration of registration?

A period of 10 years counted from the date of filing an application for registration or from the date of first commercial exploitation anywhere in India or in any convention country or country specified by Government of India whichever is earlier. Refer sections 93 and 94.

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15. Who can obtain protection of Layout-Designs under the SICLD Act, 2000?

Any person(s) who

  • is creator of a layout design and desires to register it
  • s an Indian national or national of country outside India which accords to citizens of India similar privileges as granted to its own citizens in respect of registration and protection of layout-designs and
  • has principal place of business in India or if he does not carry out business in India , has place of service in India

16. What makes this Act different from the other IPR Acts i.e. Patent Act, TradeMarks Act, Copyright Act etc.?

SICLD Act is a sui-generis (one of its kind) specifically meant for protecting IPR relating to Layout-Design (Topographies) of Semiconductor Integrated Circuit

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REGISTRY MATTERS

17. What is Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry and where is it situated?

Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry (SICLDR) is the office where the applications on Layout-Designs of integrated circuits are filed for registration of created IPR . This Registry is located at Room no. 3014-3015, Electronics Niketan, Department of Information Technology, 6 CGO Complex, Lodi Road, New Delhi-110 003.

18. What are the powers of Registrar?

Section-72 of the Act be referred for full details. Major ones are :

  • All powers of a civil court for the purposes of
    • receiving evidence, administering oaths , enforcing the attendance of witnesses compelling the discovery and production of documents and
    • issuing commissions for examination the of witnesses.
  • The Registrar may make orders under section 96 of the Act as to costs he considers reasonable and any such order shall be executable as decree to a civil court
  • Examine applications filed and issue registration to the qualifying layout designs.
  • Supervise and approve all administrative and technical actions in matters of Registry
  • Refer disputes to the Appellate Board
  • Review his own decisions
  • May cancel the registration of registered user

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19. Who decides that the Layout-Design is Original?

The Registrar will determine the originality of the design based on the information available with him as also through the mechanism of advertisement of the application for registration of the layout-design and or any input he may receive.

20. What are the steps in registration of a layout-design?

The registration of a layout-design involves the following steps:

  • Filing of application by the creator of the layout-design at the SICLD Registry
  • The acceptance of application. Registrar may accept, refuse the application or accept with some modifications.
  • The accepted applications shall be advertised within 14 days of acceptance .
  • Any opposition to the advertisement can be filed within 3 months from the date of advertisement.
  • the counter-statement to the notice of opposition, if any, to be filed within 2 months from the date of receipt of copy of notice of opposition from the Registrar
  • A copy of the counter statement provided to the opposing party
  • The Registrar may take hearing with the parities
  • The Registrar will decide on the originality of the layout-design and grant or reject the application for registration based on the conclusions reached by him.
  • Aggrieved party can appeal to Appellate Board or in its absence Civil Court for relief on any ruling of the Registrar.

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21. Which documents /material to be given at the Registry at the time of filing IPR application? ?

Registrar's office has drawn a list of items to be submitted along with the application. This is available at the Registrar's office. The list includes:
i) 3 sets of 2D/3D drawings which describe the layout-design applied for registration and or
3 sets of photographs of masks used for the fabrication of the semiconductor integrated circuit by using of the layout-design applied for registration, and or drawings which describe the pattern of such masks
ii) Semiconductor integrated circuit [where an integrated circuit has been made using layout-design applied for registration]
iii)any related information sought by Registry/Registrar.

22. What is Register of Layout-Designs?

Register of Layout-Designs is a register wherein all registered layout-designs with names, addresses and descriptions of the proprietor and other matters related to the registered layout-designs are listed in a central Register maintained at the Registry. This Register is open to public on payment of charges.

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23. Who can rectify/correct the Register of Layout-Designs?

The Registrar and/or Layout-Design Appellate Board can rectify the Register of Layout-Designs.
In addition to this, Registrar can make the following corrections in the Register:
a) correct any error in the name, address or description of the registered proprietor of a layout-design, or any other entry relating to the layout-design
b ) enter any change in the name, address or description of the person who is registered as proprietor of a layout-design
c) cancel the entry of a layout-design on the register
d) correct any errors in entries

24. Does public has the access to the documents kept in the Registry?

Yes. The public can inspect the following documents on payment of related fees:
a) the Register of layout-designs and any document upon which any entry in the register is based
b) Notice of opposition to the registration of a layout-design application for rectification before the Registrar, counter statement thereto, and any affidavit or document filed by the parties in any proceedings before the Registrar
c) the indexes (as indicated in section 86 of the Act).

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25. Who issues the Certificate of Registration?

The Registrar will issue the certificate of registration with the seal of Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry

26. Does registered user under the Act have rights of assignment or transmission of a registered layout-design?

No, the Act does not confer on a registered user of a layout-design any assignable or transmissible right to use thereof.

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27. Who and under what conditions the registration of a registered user can be cancelled?

The Registrar can cancel the registration of the registered user of the registered layout design in the following cases:

a) On application in writing from the registered proprietor or the registered user for the purpose.
b) On application from a person that

  • the registered design is not being used in accordance with the agreement
  • the proprietor or the registered user misrepresented or failed to disclose some facts which accurately represented or disclosed would not have justified the registration as registered user
  • the circumstances have changed since the date of registration as registered user such that the changed circumstances would not have justified registration as registered user
  • the registration ought not to have been effected having regard to right vested in the application by virtue of a contract in the performance of which he is interested

c) the agreement between the registered proprietor and the registered user on the topographical dimensions is not being adhered to
d) if the layout-design is no longer registered.

 

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APPELLATE BOARD MATTERS

28. What is a appropriate Appellate Board for appeals or grievance redressal?

Layout-Design Appellate Board (LDAB) or in its absence the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) constituted under Trade Marks Act 1999 will be the Appellate forum. IPAB is located in Chennai.

29. What are the functions of the LDAB or IPAB?

The following are the broad functions of the Appellate Board:

  • Rectify the Register of Layout-Designs
  • Determine Royalty in case of use of the registered layout-design by a user who had no prior knowledge that the layout-design was registered i.e. innocent infringement
  • Cancel registration of a layout-design (as per section 41 of the Act)
  • Listen to the appeals made against the decisions of the Registrar and decide appropriately
  • Decide the cases referred to by the Registrar
  • Permit use of registered layout-design without the authorization of the registered proprietor (as per section 51 of the Act). Appellate Board will have the same powers as vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 108 while trying a suit in respect of the following matters
    • receiving evidence
    • issuing commissions for examination of witnesses
    • requisitioning any public record etc.

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30. Is there a provision in the SICLD Act 2000 to permit use of registered layout-design without the authorization of the registered proprietor of the layout-design i.e. the compulsory licensing permissible under the Act?

Yes, Act provides for the Layout-Design Appellate Board to authorize the Government or any person authorized by the Government, after giving notice to the registered proprietor of the layout-design, permit use of the registered layout-design, for a limited period subject to the following conditions (section 51 of the Act):

  • the use shall be for non-commercial public purposes or purposes related to national emergency or of extreme public urgency
  • the use is to remedy the anti-competitive practices
  • the use is non-assignable and non-transmissible
  • the use is for supplying ICs or articles incorporating these ICs for domestic market of India only

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31. In the case of granting compulsory licensee under the Act, is the registered proprietor entitled for any relief and who decides?

Yes, while granting a compulsory license the Appellate Board can determine the amount to be paid as royalty by the Government or the person authorized by the Government, as the case may be, to the registered proprietor of the layout-design.

32. Can the registered proprietor of the layout-design request the Appellate Board to review the compulsory license?

Yes, the registered proprietor of the layout-design can appeal the Appellate Board to review the compulsory license granted under section 51 of the Act. The Board can amend or cancel such permission if it is satisfied that any of the conditions subject to which the permission was earlier granted has not been observed or the circumstances, which led to the granting of such permission, has ceased to exist or substantially altered.

33. Where appeal can be made against the decision of the Appellate Board?

Appeal in the High Court can be made against order of the Appellate Board.

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GENERAL

34. Infringements:

i) What is the penalty for infringement of a registered layout-design?

Infringing the rights of a registered proprietor of a layout-design is a considered an criminal offence. The infringer is punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three (3) years or fine which shall not be less than Rs. 50,000/- but which may extend to Rs. 10.0 lakhs or with both.

ii) What is the penalty for falsely representing a layout-design as registered?

It is a criminal offence to falsely represent a layout-design as registered. If a person does so, he can be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to 6 months or with fine, which may extend to Rs. 50,000/- or with both.

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iii) What is the penalty for improperly describing a place of business as connected with SICLD Registry?

It is a criminal offence to improperly describe a place of business as connected with SICLD Registry. If a person does so, he can be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to 6 months or with fine or with both.

iv) What is the penalty for falsification of entries in the register?

Falsification of entries in the register is a criminal offence. If a person does so, he can be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to two (2) years or with fine or with both.

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35. Can any action of infringement of unregistered layout-design be instituted?

No, no entitlement to institute any proceeding to prevent, or to recover damages for the infringement of an unregistered layout-design.

36. Where a person based on the scientific evaluation or analysis of a registered layout-design creates another layout-design that is original. Does this person can register his layout-design under the SICLD Act?

Yes, such a person can approach registration of his layout-design under the Act provided he is able to satisfy that his work is original and created through his own intellectual efforts and meets criteria of registerability as per section 7.

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37. Where a person purchases a semiconductor integrated circuits layout-design or any article incorporating such a semiconductor integrated circuit, is he entitled to immunity from infringement?

Any innocent action is entitled to immunity from infringement.

38. Can Registrar extend time for doing any act under the SICLD Act, 2000?

Yes, the Registrar can extend time for doing any act, whether the time so specified has expired or not, subject to such conditions as he may think fit to impose. However, no relaxation in the time limit of commercial exploitation i.e. two years is possible.

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39. Which other persons can do any act, other than making of the affidavit, instead of the person himself, under the SICLD Act, 2000?

The following duly authorized persons, instead of the person himself, can do any act other than making of an affidavit on the behalf of such person:

  • legal practitioner
  • person registered as layout-design agent in the Registry
  • person in the sole and regular employment of the principal

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