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What are circuit layout rights?

Circuit layout rights protect the layout plans or designs of electronic components in an integrated circuit, computer chips, or semi-conductors used in personal computers and computer-reliant equipment such as:

  • household items (e.g. digital watches, television sets and washing machines)
  • medical devices (e.g. heart pacemakers)
  • medical equipment (e.g. x-ray machines and MRI machines)
  • anything else with electronic components.

When do circuit layout rights subsist?

Circuit layout rights commence automatically as soon as the plan or design is created. In this respect, this type of intellectual property right is like copyright.

As with copyright, you do not need to register the plan or design.

What are the requirements for circuit layout rights to subsist?

  1. The layout or plan must be either:
    • made by an Australian citizen or corporation, or a citizen or corporation of an eligible country, or
    • commercially exploited in Australia or in an eligible country.
  2. The layout or plan must be original.

An eligible country is one with laws that confer on Australian citizens the same rights in the eligible country in relation to circuit layout rights as Australian laws confer.