Topographies of Semiconductor Products
– Act on protection of layout designs of integrated circuits, in force since March 16, 1999; last amendments in force since January 1, 2009.
Membership in International Conventions
– Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), since February 5, 1994.
– Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Stockholm Act, since August 24, 1994.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since November 13, 1999.
– The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille), since September 30, 2001.
Definition: a layout design of an integrated circuit means the reproduction of the three-dimensional disposition of the elements of integrated circuit and of all or some of the interconnections between the elements, or a reproduction of a three-dimensional disposition that is meant for manufacturing the integrated circuit, with at least one element being an active element.
Applicant: the creator(s) or the legal successor(s).
Foreigners and nationals not living in the country: must appoint and authorize a local patent attorney.
Criteria of registrability: legal protection will be granted, if a layout design is original and has not been in commercial use in any part of the world for more than two years before the application date.
Date of filing: before the first commercial use or within two years from the date of first commercial use either in Estonia or abroad. If the topography is not in commercial use, the application can be filed within fifteen years from the date of creation of the topography.
Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to local attorney):
1. Power of attorney (only upon request) (same requirements as for “patents“);
2. Documents clearly identifying the topography (drawings or photographs of the layout or mask, drawings or photographs of the different layers of the microchip, etc.);
3. Documents evidencing the date of first commercial use, if the date is earlier than the application date.
Examination: formal only. No examination as to registrability.
Negative decision: refusal of registration can be appealed by the applicant at the Board of Appeal. The decision of the Board can further be appealed at the court.
Granting, Modification after Granting
Duration of protection: the protection begins retroactively from the application date or from the date of first commercial use if the latter date is earlier, and will be effective for ten years from the last day of the first year of the term of the protection.
Scope of protection: protection against unauthorized commercial use (copying, selling, producing, exportation, importation of any semiconductor product containing the registered topography, etc.).
Cancellation after registration: third party is entitled to contest the registration of a layout design through court.
Assignment: possible upon payment of the State fee; must be recorded in the State Register, otherwise invalid.
License: the registration of a license agreement is not compulsory, but an unregistered license agreement is not valid against third parties.
Infringements: are handled by the Estonian court.
Liability of the infringer: civil and criminal. Compensation of damages may be required through court.