IC Layouts Overview
Layout designs of an integrated circuit (IC) is the 3-dimensional disposition of the elements and interconnections making up an IC. IC is an electronic circuit in which the elements of the circuit are integrated into some medium and function as a unit. The medium used is a solid semiconductor, usually silicon. The manufacturing technology allows the circuit to be integrated into a piece of silicon which is small and thin, like a wafer. Such a piece of silicon is called a "silicon chip". The terms "semiconductor" and "silicon chip" have been used synonymously with "integrated circuit" as all commercial integrated circuits presently available are fabricated from semiconductors, usually silicon. Integrated circuits are utilized in many products from watches to televisions to traffic lights and of course computers.
The Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Act, 2000, along with the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Rules, 2001, provide statutory protection for original layout-designs.
The Act defines "Semiconductor integrated circuit" and "Layout-design" as follows:
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;
Layout-design: means a layout of transistors and other circuitry elements and includes lead wires connecting such elements and expressed in any manner in a semiconductor integrated circuit;
Criteria for registration of a Layout Design:
- Distinctive and
- Capable of distinguishing from any other lay-out design.
A layout-design is original if it is the result of its creator's own intellectual effort and is not commonplace among creators of layout-designs and manufacturers of integrated circuits at the time of its creation. A layout-desing consisting of such combination of elements and interconnections that are commonly known among creators of layout-desings and manufacturers of semicounductor integrated circuits shall be considered as original if such combination taken as a whole is the result of its creator's own intellectual efforts
The following layout-designs are prohibited from registration under the Act:
- Which is not original; or
- Which has been commercially exploited anywhere in India or in a convention country; or
- Which is not inherently distinctive; or
- Which is not inherently capable of being distinguishable from any other registered layout-design
Provided that a layout-design which has been commercially exploited for not more than two years from the date on which an application for its registration has been filed either in India or in a convention country, shall be treated as not having been commercially exploited for the purpose of this Act.
The registration of a layout-design shall be only for a period of ten 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 country, whichever is earlier.
The Semicounductor Integrated Circuits Layout-Design Registry of India is currently located in New Delhi, and comes under the purview of DIT, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.