Topographies of Semiconductor Products

– Book VI of the Intellectual Property Code (Articles L.622 sq. and R.622 sq.).


Definition: a final topography or an intermediate topography of a semiconductor product may be protected.

Entitlement to protection: (1) creators who are nationals of a State party to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or have there their residence or a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment, or their successors in title; (2) persons meeting the aforesaid conditions of nationality, residence or establishment, exclusively authorized by the entitled person for the whole European Union or European Economic Area, who exploit for the first time in a member State a topography not protected; (3) nationals of countries that ensure reciprocity to the nationals of France.

Filing requirements: one application per topography, to be filed within two years of first commercial use, or within fifteen years after being fixed or coded for the first time if never exploited. Details regarding the applicant, the date and place of the first commercial use and a graphical representation of the topography must be provided. Specimen may be provided. Parts of the topography may be kept secret.

Infringement: reproduction of the topography, commercial exploitation or importation to that end of such reproduction or of any semiconductor product incorporating it.

Infringement action: the same as for patents.

Exceptions: acquisition by a bona fide purchaser (who shall pay a fair compensation if he continues to make commercial use of the protected topography), reproduction of the topography for evaluation analysis or teaching purposes, development of a distinctive topography eligible to protection based on an analysis or evaluation of a protected topography.

Duration: ten years after the date of filing or first commercial use if prior.

Working: registration no longer effective when the topography is not used within fifteen years after being fixed or coded for the first time.