A topography, as a representation of the three-dimensional pattern of layers of conducting, insulating or semiconducting material in semiconductor products intended to perform an electronic function, may be protected as intellectual property.
The basic protection requirement to be complied with by a topography is that it has to be original (that it is the result of its creator s own intellectual effort) and that it is not commonplace in the semiconductor industry.
The topographies of semiconductor products are protected due to the fact that the development of new semiconductor products, in particular the reduction of their dimensions, require substantial investments, while the copying of already developed topography is very simple and very cheap.
A protected topography confers to its owner, for a limited period of time, the exclusive right to prohibit or to authorize reproduction of the topography, and importation, sale and other forms of putting into circulation the topography or the semiconductor product manufactured by its use, as well as a product incorporating the semiconductor product containing the protected topography.
The protection does not apply to any concept, process, system, technique of production of the topography or any information embodied in the topography, but to the topography as such.
To protect a topography a registration procedure has to be carried out before the relevant competent authority, and the protection applies to the territory in which the authority concerned has legal competence.