Topographies of Semiconductor Products

– Semiconductor Protection Law of October 22, 1987, last amended on August 10, 2021.
– Semiconductor Protection Regulations of May 11, 2004, last amended on August 10, 2021.


Applicant: the authorized physical person or legal entity having their residence in one of the member countries of the European Union or in a country that grants reciprocity. 

Foreigners and nationals not living in the country: must appoint a representative in Germany. 

Types of chip designs: three-dimensional structures of microelectronic semiconductor products (topographies) showing peculiarity, or independently usable parts thereof, e.g. gate-arrays, etc., and representations for the production of topographies, e.g. masks, etc.

Novelty: the first date of industrial use must not be earlier than two years before the application date and the first draft must not be older than fifteen years.

Filing Office: German Patent and Trademark Office.

Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney (no legalization required), may be filed later on;
2. Documents for identification or illustration of the topography (drawings or photos of the layout or the mask);
3. Date of the first public industrial use, if the date lies before the application date.

Examination Procedure

Examination: only a formal examination; no examination as to registrability.

Opposition: not possible.


Registration: the German Patent and Trademark Office enters the chip design in the Official Register. 

Publication: as for “utility models“. 

Beginning of protection: the protection begins on the date of the first industrial use, or, if there was no industrial use before the application date, on the application date. 

Duration: ten years from the beginning of the calendar year following the date of the beginning of the protection.

Annuities: there are no annuities, but only an application fee.

Working: no working required.

Assignment: possible and will be registered on request. 

Licenses: possible, but not registrable.

Infringement: actions for infringement based on chip designs can be filed as explained for patents.

Refusal of Protection after Registration

Cancellation: on request of a third party by the reason that the topography is not protectable or was not filed in due time.