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

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