Topographies of Semiconductor Products
– Law No. 324 on Protection of Rights to Topographies of Integrated Circuits of January 17, 2000.
Right to protection: the right to the protection corresponds to the designer or his successor.
Applicant: an entitled physical person or legal entity who filed an application for registration of a topography of integrated circuit.
Foreigners and nationals not living in the country: must appoint a representative in Nicaragua.
Definition of topography of integrated circuit: a space-geometrical layout of elements of an integrated circuit and their mutual connections fixed on a material carrier, at least one of them being active.
Novelty: a topography is deemed to be original if it has not been drafted by the way of direct copying of another topography of an integrated circuit; has distinctive features due to which it has new properties; and was not known in the field of microelectronics before the date of filing of an application to the Patent Office or before the date of first industrial use.
Filing and Registration Office: the Registry of Intellectual Property.
Filing requirements for an application (to be sent to resident patent attorney):
1. Power of attorney (legalization required);
2. Application (may be signed by a representative);
3. Documents for identification or illustration of the topography: (i) if there was no industrial use before the filing date, the application papers must include one complete set of visual materials illustrating each layer of the topography (masks, drawings of the layout or each layer, photos of each layer of the topography fixed in the integrated circuit) and an abstract; (ii) description of the electronic function of the integrated circuit;
4. Declaration indicating the date of the first industrial use.
Examination: only formal by the Registry of Intellectual Property.
Publication of the application: the law provides for a publication of the application in the Official Gazette for one time, but there is no term for filing oppositions, which probably will be regulated by the Administrative Regulations, which will be issued in the future.
Registration: the Registry of Intellectual Property enters the topography of an integrated circuit in the Official Register and issues a certificate, notice of which is published in the Official Gazette.
Scope of the rights and limitations: the law provides for the rights of the registrant over the integrated circuits as well as the limitations, thereof.
Beginning of protection: on the date of the application.
Duration: ten years from the application date.
Annuities: from the third year from the application date.
Infringement: actions for infringement can be filed as explained for “patents”.
Compulsory licenses: no provision.
Licenses: the law regulates voluntary licenses. The license takes effect only after presentation at the Registry of Intellectual Property.
Assignment: an assignment deed is deemed to be valid if it has been drawn-up in writing and signed by both parties.
Modification of Protection after Registration
Cancellation: the registration of the topography of integrated circuits may be nullified if: (1) the registration has been granted in violation of the law; (2) the topography does not comply with the law requirements; (3) the registration has been granted to a person who does not have a right to it.