Integrated Circuits

Layout Designs & Integrated Circuits Act, Chapter 26:07

An integrated circuit is a micro-electronic circuit manufactured in complex series of layers with passive and active components on the surfaces of thin substrates of semiconductor materials. It is also called an IC, silicon chip or just a chip. For example, modern electrical equipment carry integrated circuits.

fig a*  = an early USSR made integrated circuit

Origins of IC’s
Integrated circuits date back to the 950’s when Geoffrey W. A. Dummer, a British radar scientist in the Defense Ministry made a public symposium on the topic. He failed to assemble the IC in 1956 but J. Kilby and R. Noyce succeeded to build the IC’s in 1950.

Importance of IC’s
Everyday life is becoming extremely dependant on machines, communication, transport, manufacturing, and medical technology. All these are dependant on the existence of IC’s. Almost all equipment in the world use IC’.  Examples include phones, watches, TVs, computers, electronic doors, cars, medical scanners and many more.

Protection of IC topography
IC’s are creations of the human mind just like other forms of IP. A lot of capital commitment, research & development, time, human resources and coordination are needed to come up with IC creations. IC’s can be copied just by making replicas of each layer on the IC. For this reason it became necessary to protect the topography (layout design) of IC’s to protect the intellect and the resources that would have been spent in coming up with such a component.  They are a source of competitive advantage. Check this in the Computer industry where IC’s are becoming smaller and more efficient, through high level R&D schemes. IBM and Intel are major spenders of capital on the IC’s R&D.

History of Protection
Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits (IPIC Treaty)
The IPIC treaty was adopted in 1989 in Washington DC, USA and has been incorporated by reference into the TRIPS agreement. Article 35 of the TRIPS Agreement gives members an obligation to protect IC topography (layout designs)

fig b*
The integrated circuit from an Intel 8742, an 8-bit microcontroller that includes a CPU running at 12 MHz, 128 bytes of RAM, 2048 bytes of EPROM, and I/O in the same chip.

Scope of Protection:
What is protected here is the topography (layout design) which is a three dimensional representation of the layers of an Integrated Circuit, showing interconnections of both the active and passive elements embedded within the IC. The representation must be in such a way that it reflects a flow used for manufacturing (engaged disposition)
In Zimbabwe Integrated Circuits` lay out designs are protected by the Layout Designs & Integrated Circuits Act, Chapter 26:07.


For more information, Contact:

The Controller
Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office

38 Nelson Mandela Avenue
Century House East, 4th Floor
P.O. Box CY 177, Causeway

Tel: 263-4- 775545-6
Fax: 263-4- 777372


A Layout Design of an Integrated Circuit

Industrial Designs

What is an industrial design?
an industrial design means the outside appearance, shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation of a useful article.
Examples of articles that can be Industrial designs
The beverage and water bottles, mobile phone casing, rivets, bulb designs,  wall plugs etc…..0

How to register

  • Application is done in Form  I.D 1.
  • Accompanied by six [6] identical copies of the design
  • Prescribed application fees of US$120.00
  • A search is conducted for the applied design from the Register of Designs.
  • If there is nothing similar , an Industrial Design Certificate is issued
  • There is no provision for the publication of registered designs.

Registration test
In Zimbabwe, registrable designs  must be:

  • New. It must not be known or used by anyone other than the applicant, nor described or illustrated in a publication in or outside Zimbabwe, nor prior registered.
  • Useful. Design must have a practical use.
  • Have an inventive step on the design.

What cannot be registered
Designs are not registrable for articles which are primarily literary or artistic in character such as paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, photographs, works of architecture being buildings or models of buildings and works of artistic craftsmanship. These are Copyright protected.


In Zimbabwe, design protection is for a period of 10 years. There is an optional once off renewal of five years to make it fifteen years.

Geographical Indications

What is a geographical indication?
A sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that place of origin.

How to register
Geographical indications are currently registered using the trade marks regulations. This means their registration follows the same procedure as trade marks.

Examples of geographical indications

  1. Mazowe Oranges - Unique oranges grown in Mazowe.
  2. Tanganda Tea - mountain tea from the eastern highlands in the Tanganda area.
  3. Inyanga Coffee - Coffee grown in the Nyanga area in eastern highlands.
  4. Hippo Valley Sugar Cane - Cane grown in the southern lowvelds of Zimbabwe.


What is the difference between a geographical indication and a trademark?

A trademark is a sign used by an enterprise to distinguish its goods and services from those of those of other enterprises. It gives its owner the right to exclude others from using the trade mark. A geographical indication tells consumers that a product is produced in a certain place and has certain characteristics that are due to that place of production. All producers may use it to make their products in the place designated by a geographical indication and whose products share typical qualities.

How are geographical indications protected ?
Geographical indications are protected in accordance with national laws and under a wide range of concepts, such as laws against unfair competition, consumer protection laws, laws for the protection of certification marks or special laws for the protection of geographical indications or appellation of origin.

In essence, unauthorized parties may not use geographical indications if such use is likely to mislead the public as to the true origin of the product. Applicable sanctions range from court injunctions preventing the unauthorized use to the payment of damages and fines or, in serious cases, imprisonment.
For further information contact

ZIPO at:
Century House East
38 Nelson Mandela Avenue
Box CY177
Harare, Zimbabwe

Telephone    : 263 - 4 - 777373,     
                       775602, 775544/6

Fax               : 263 – 4 - 777372

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