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What and how to protect the topography of a semiconductor product?

A topography of a semiconductor product (hereinafter referred to as "topography") is a series of interrelated representations, however fixed or encoded, showing the three-dimensional arrangement of the layers of which a semiconductor product is composed, each representation showing a pattern or part of a pattern of the surface of the semiconductor product at any stage of its manufacture.

Act No. 146/2000 Coll. on the protection of topographies of semiconductor products as amended by Act No. 84/2007 Coll. (Zákon NR SR č. 146/2000 Z. z. o ochrane topografií polovodičových výrobkov) allows the protection of topographies which are the result of the creative intellectual activity of the originator and which are not common in the sector of semiconductor products.

Registration of the topography of a semiconductor product in the register is applied for by an application filed with the Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic, Švermova 43, 974 04 Banská Bystrica 4 (hereinafter referred to as the Office). It is recommended to use the form, Žiadosť (PDF, 194,9 kB), (Application) for registration of the topography of a semiconductor product in the Register.

The application form must contain :

  1. an application for registration in the Register, indicating the name of the topography, the first name, surname, residence and nationality of the applicant or its business name and registered office, if the applicant is a legal entity,
  2. supporting documents enabling the topography to be identified and, where appropriate, the semiconductor product itself containing the topography,
  3. the date of first commercial use of the topography,
  4. proof of acquisition of the right to protection of the topography, as well as the name, surname and address of the originator, if the applicant is not the originator,
  5. the particulars of the representative or, if the applicant is represented, the power of attorney,
  6. the signature of the applicant or the person authorised to act on his behalf.

The applicant is entitled to designate part of the documents as a business secret pursuant to Article 51 of the Commercial Code.

The topography application procedure is based on the so-called registration principle. If the application contains the prescribed particulars, the Office shall enter the topography in the register, issue a certificate of registration to the applicant and announce the registration in the Bulletin of the Office. If the application does not comply with the statutory provisions, the Office shall invite the applicant to remedy the deficiencies. If he fails to do so within the time limit set, the Office shall discontinue the application. The Office may, at the request of any person, delete a topography from the Register if it is established that the conditions laid down by law for the registration of a topography in the Register have not been fulfilled. Deletion shall have effect as if the topography had not been entered in the register.

Protection of the topography shall commence on the date of the first commercial use of the topography, if the application has been filed with the Office within two years of such use, or on the date of filing of the application, if the topography has not been commercially exploited before that date. The term of protection of a topography shall expire 10 years after the end of the calendar year in which the protection of the topography was established.

The owner shall have the exclusive right to exploit the topography, to reproduce the topography, to transfer the rights in the topography to a third party, to consent to or prohibit the reproduction of the topography, to manufacture a semiconductor device incorporating the topography, to commercially exploit the topography or a semiconductor product incorporating the protected topography.