Integrated Circuit Rights

What are Integrated Circuit Rights?

An “integrated circuit” is defined in section 103 of the Intellectual Property Act 2011 (‘the Act’) as a “product, in its final form or an intermediate form in which the elements, at least one of which is an active element, and some or all of the interconnections are integrally formed in and on a piece of material and which is intended to perform an electronic function”.

“Layout-design” is defined in section 103 of the Act to mean “the three-dimensional disposition, however expressed, of the elements, at least one of which is an active element, and of some or all of the inter-connections of an integrated circuit, or such a three-dimensional disposition prepared for an integrated circuit intended for manufacture”.

To simplify the above technical definitions, Integrated circuit rights are simply IP rights that aim to protect the original layout designs for integrated circuits and computer chips.  Protection is given to plans which show the three-dimensional location of the electronic components of an integrated circuit.  This IP protection is required by the TRIPS Agreement and became recognised as a protected right in Samoa through the implementation of the Act.

What Layout-designs are Registrable?

Original Layout designs of integrated circuits are registrable.  A layout-design is considered to be original if it is the result of its creator’s own intellectual effort and is not common place among creators of layout-designs and manufacturers of integrated circuits, at the time of its creation.

A layout-design consisting of a combination of elements and inter-connections that are commonplace is to be protected only if the combination taken as a whole, is original.

Registration is only possible where the layout design has not been commercially exploited, or has been commercially exploited for less than 2 years, anywhere in the world.

Who has the Right to Registration?

The right to protection of a layout-design belongs to:

  • The creator of the layout-design.
  • When 2 or more persons jointly create a layout-design, the right belongs to them jointly.
  • When 2 or more persons made the same layout-design independently of each other, the person whose application has the earliest filing date has the right to the layout-design, as long as the application is not withdrawn, abandoned or rejected.
  • If a layout-design is made in execution of a commission or an employment contract, the right to the layout design belongs to the person who commissioned the work or the employer, unless a contractual provision says otherwise.
  • The right to a layout-design may be assigned, or may be transferred by succession.

Duration of Protection

Protection of a layout-design expires at the end of the 10th calendar year after the date of commencement of protection.

Application for Registration

An application for the registration of a layout-design must be filed to the Registrar and must be accompanied by the prescribed fees.  The written application submitted to the Registrar must contain the following:

  • The applicant’s name, address and nationality including the details of any agents used by the applicant for this purpose;
  • Each creator’s name;
  • A request for registration of the layout-design and a brief description of the layout-design;
  • A copy or drawing of the layout-design together with information defining the electronic function which the integrated circuit is intended to perform;
  • Specify the date of first commercial exploitation of the layout-design anywhere in the world or indicate that such exploitation has not commenced; and
  • Written authorization appointing the representative of the applicant i.e. the applicant’s agent.

Fees & Forms

Please note that relevant fees for the Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits are yet to be approved.  The relevant forms will be uploaded to this page once they are finalized.

If you require further information on Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits, please contact the IP Registry at the Registries of Companies and Intellectual Property Division.

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