Policies and Regulations

Regulations on the Protection of Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits

2005-01-12 15:26 

(Adopted at the 36th Executive Meeting of the State Council on March 28, 2001, 
promulgated by Decree No. 300 of the State Council of the People's Republic of

China on April 2001, and effective as of the date of October 1, 2001)

Chapter I General Provisions

Article 1. These Regulations are formulated in order to protect the exclusive 
right of layout-design of integrated circuits, to encourage innovation of 
integrated circuits technology and to promote the development of science and 
technology.

Article 2. For the purposes of these Regulations: 
(1) "integrated circuit" means semiconductor integrated circuit, that is, a 
product, in its intermediate or final form, which uses semiconductor material as 
its chip, in and/or on which two or more elements, at least one of which is an 
active element, and some or all of the interconnections are integrally formed 
and which is intended to perform a certain electronic function;
(2) "layout-design of integrated circuit"(hereinafter referred to as 
layout-design) means the three-dimensional disposition of the two or more 
elements, at least one of which is an active element, and some or all of the 
interconnections of an integrated circuit, or such a three-dimensional 
disposition prepared for the manufacture of an integrated circuit;
(3) "holder of the right of layout-design" means the natural person, the legal 
person or any other organization that, according to these Regulations, is 
entitled to the exclusive right of a layout-design; 
(4) "reproduction" means the act of reproducing a layout-design or of 
reproducing an integrated circuit incorporating the layout-design;
(5) "commercial exploitation" means the act of importing, selling or otherwise 
distributing for commercial purposes a protected layout-design, or an integrated 
circuit incorporating such a layout-design, or an article incorporating such an 
integrated circuit.

Article 3. Any layout-design created by a Chinese natural person, legal person

or other organization shall be eligible for the exclusive right of layout-design 
in accordance with these Regulations.
Any layout-design created by a foreigner shall, where it is first commercially 
exploited in the territory of the People's Republic of China, be eligible for 
the exclusive right of layout-design in accordance with these Regulations.
Any layout-design created by a foreigner shall be eligible for the exclusive 
right of layout-design in accordance with these Regulations, if the country to 
which the foreigner belongs has concluded an agreement with China to protect 
layout-designs or both the country to which the foreigner belongs and China are 
party to an international treaty concerning the protection of layout-designs.

Article 4. Any layout-design which is to be protected shall be original in the 
sense that the layout-design is the result of the creator's own intellectual 
effort, and it is not commonplace among creators of layout-designs and 
manufacturers of integrated circuits at the time of its creation.
Where a layout-design which is to be protected consists of several commonplace 
layout-designs, the combination of these layout-designs taken as a whole shall 
be in compliance with the requirements referred to in the preceding paragraph.

Article 5. The protection of layout-designs under these Regulations shall not 
extend to ideas, procedures, methods of operations or mathematical concepts as 
such.

Article 6. The intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council is responsible for the relevant administrative work concerning the 
exclusive right of layout-design in accordance with these Regulations.

Chapter II  Exclusive Right of Layout-design 

Article 7. The holder of the right of layout-design shall enjoy the following 
exclusive right:
(1) reproducing a protected layout-design in its entirety or any part thereof 
that complies with the requirement of originality;
(2) commercially exploiting a protected layout-design, an integrated circuit 
incorporating a protected layout-design, or an article incorporating such an 
integrated circuit.

Article 8. The exclusive right of layout-design is acquired after its being 
registered with the intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council.
Any unregistered layout-design shall not be protected under these Regulations.

Article 9. The exclusive right of layout-design shall belong to its creator, 
except as otherwise prescribed in these Regulations.
 

Where a layout-design is created according to the will and under the charge of a 
legal person or other organization, which shall bear responsibility for such 
layout-design, that legal person or other organization shall be the creator.
Where a layout-design is created by a natural person, that person shall be the 
creator.

Article 10. Where a layout-design is created jointly by two or more natural 
persons, legal persons or other organizations, the ownership of the exclusive 
right shall be agreed upon by the joint creators; in the absence of such an 
agreement or where the agreement is not clear, the exclusive right shall be 
owned jointly by the creators.

Article 11. Where a layout-design is created in execution of a commission, the 
ownership of the exclusive right shall be agreed upon by the person having 
commissioned and the person being commissioned; in the absence of such an 
agreement or where the agreement is not clear, the exclusive right shall be 
owned by the person being commissioned.

Article 12. The term of protection of the exclusive right of layout-design shall 
be 10 years counted from the date of filing an application for registration or 
from the date on which it was first commercially exploited anywhere in the 
world, whichever expires earlier. However, no matter whether it has been 
registered or commercially exploited, a layout-design shall no longer be 
protected under these Regulations 15 years after the date of the completion of 
its creation.

Article 13. Where the exclusive right of layout-design belongs to a natural 
person, the exclusive right shall, after the death of the natural person and 
within the term of protection as prescribed in these Regulations, be transferred 
in accordance with the provisions of the Succession Law.
Where the exclusive right of a layout-design belongs to a legal person or other 
organization, the exclusive right shall, after the legal person or other 
organization is reorganized or ceases to exist and within the term of protection 
as prescribed in these Regulations, be owned by the legal person or other 
organization which succeeds to its rights and obligations; where there is no 
such legal person or other organization to succeed to its rights and 
obligations, the layout-design shall enter into the public domain.

Chapter III  Registration of Layout-design

Article 14. The intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council is responsible for the registration of layout-design and receives 
applications for layout-design registration.
 

Article 15. Where a layout-design for which registration is applied relates to 
the security or other vital interests of the State and is required to be kept 
secret, the application shall be handled in accordance with the relevant 
provisions of the State.

Article 16. Where an application for registration of layout-design is filed, the 
following shall be submitted:
(1) an application form for registration of layout-design;
(2) a copy or drawing of the layout-design;
(3) where the layout-design has been put into commercial exploitation, a sample 
of that integrated circuit incorporating the layout-design;
(4) other materials required by the intellectual property administration 
department of the State Council.

Article 17. Any layout-design, if no application for its registration has been 
filed with the intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council within two years from the date on which it was first commercially 
exploited anywhere in the world, shall no longer be registered by the 
intellectual property administration department of the State Council. 

Article 18. Where, after preliminary examination of an application for 
registration of layout-design, it is found that there is no cause for rejection 
of the application, the intellectual property administration department of the 
State Council shall register it, issue the registration certificate and announce 
it.

Article 19. Where the applicant for layout-design registration is not satisfied 
with the decision of the intellectual property administration department of the 
State Council rejecting its or his application for registration, it or he may, 
within three months from the date of receipt of the notification, request the 
intellectual property administration department of the State Council to make a 
reexamination. The intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council shall, after reexamination, make a decision and notify the applicant for 
layout-design registration. Where the applicant for layout-design registration 
is still not satisfied with the decision of reexamination of the intellectual 
property administration department of the State Council, it or he may, within 
three months from the date of receipt of the notification, bring a law suit 
before the people's court.

Article 20. Where, after the registration of a layout-design, the intellectual 
property administration department of the State Council finds that the 
registration does not comply with the provisions of these Regulations; it shall 
revoke the registration, notify the holder of the right of layout-design and 
announce it. Where the holder of the right of layout-design is not satisfied with the decision of the intellectual property administration department of the 
State Council revoking the registration of layout-design, it or he may, within 
three months from receipt of the notification, bring a law suit before the 
people's court.

Article 21. Until the announcement of the layout-design registration, staff 
members of the intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council have the duty to keep its contents secret.

Chapter IV Exercise of Exclusive Right of Layout-design 

Article 22. The holder of the right of layout-design may assign its or his 
exclusive right or give other persons a license to exploit its or his 
layout-design.
Where the exclusive right of layout-design is assigned, the parties concerned 
shall conclude a written contract and register it with the intellectual property 
administration department of the State Council. The intellectual property 
administration department of the State Council shall announce the registration. 
The assignment of the exclusive right of layout-design shall take effect as of 
the date of registration.
Where a license to exploit a layout-design is given to others, the parties shall 
conclude a written contract.

Article 23. Any of the following acts may be performed without the authorization 
of the holder of the right of layout-design and without any payment of 
remuneration:
(1) reproducing a protected layout-design for private purposes or for the sole 
purpose of evaluation, analysis, research or teaching;
(2) creating a layout-design with originality on the basis of the evaluation or 
analysis of a protected layout-design referred to in the preceding 
sub-paragraph;
(3) reproducing or commercially exploiting a layout-design that is identical with 
the layout-design of another person but is created independently by oneself.

Article 24. Where a protected layout-design, an integrated circuit incorporating 
such a layout-design, or an article incorporating such an integrated circuit has 
been put on the market by, or with the consent of, the holder of the right of 
layout-design, anyone may exploit it for commercial purposes without the 
authorization of, nor payment of remuneration to, the holder of the right of 
layout-design.

Article 25. In the case of a national emergency, or in any extraordinary state 
of affairs, or for the purposes of public interests, or where it is determined 
according to the law by the people's court or the supervision and inspection

department against unfair competition that there is unfair competition on the 
part of the holder of the right of layout-design and there is a need to give 
remedy, the intellectual property administration department of the State Council 
may grant a non-voluntary license to exploit the layout-design.

Article 26. Any decision made by the intellectual property administration 
department of the State Council granting a non-voluntary license to exploit a 
layout-design shall be notified promptly to the holder of the right of 
layout-design.
In the decision granting a non-voluntary license to exploit a layout-design, the 
scope and duration of the exploitation shall be specified on the basis of the 
reasons justifying the grant. The scope shall be limited to non-commercial use 
for public purposes, or to remedy an act of the holder of the right of 
layout-design determined according to the law by the people's court or the 
supervision and inspection department against unfair competition to be one of 
unfair competition.
When the circumstances which led to such non-voluntary license cease to exist 
and are unlikely to recur, the intellectual property administration department 
of the State Council shall, after reviewing upon the request of the holder of 
the right of layout-design, make a decision to terminate the non-voluntary 
license.

Article 27. Any natural person, legal person or other organization that is 
granted a non-voluntary license to exploit a layout-design shall not have an 
exclusive right to exploit it and shall not have the right to authorize 
exploitation by any other person.

Article 28. Any natural person, legal person or other organization that is 
granted a non-voluntary license shall pay to the holder of the right of 
layout-design a reasonable remuneration, the amount of which shall be fixed by 
both parties in consultations; where the parties fail to reach an agreement, the 
intellectual property administration department of the State Council shall make 
an adjudication.

Article 29. Where the holder of the right of layout-design is not satisfied with 
the decision of the intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council granting a non-voluntary license to exploit the layout-design, or where 
the holder of the right of layout-design or, the natural person, legal person or 
other organization that is granted the non-voluntary license is not satisfied 
with the ruling made by the intellectual property administration department of 
the State Council regarding the remuneration payable for exploitation, it or he 
may, within three months from the date of receipt of notification, bring a law 
suit before the people's court.
 

Chapter V  Legal Liability

Article 30. Except as otherwise prescribed in these Regulations, where any 
person commits any of the following acts without the authorization of the holder 
of the right of layout-design, he or it must stop the acts immediately and bear 
liability to compensate for the damage:
(1) reproducing a protected layout-design in its entirety or any part thereof 
that complies with the requirement of originality; 
(2) importing, selling, or otherwise distributing for commercial purposes a 
protected layout-design, an integrated circuit incorporating such a 
layout-design, or an article incorporating such an integrated circuit. 
The amount of compensation for the damage caused by an infringement of the 
exclusive right of layout-design shall be the profits which the infringer has 
earned through the infringement or the losses suffered by the person whose right 
was infringed, including the reasonable expenses paid by the infringed person 
for the purposes of stopping the infringement.

Article 31. Where a dispute arises as a result of the exploitation of a 
layout-design without the authorization of the holder of the right of 
layout-design, that is, the infringement of the exclusive right of 
layout-design, it shall be settled through consultation by the parties 
concerned. Where the parties are not willing to consult with each other or where 
the consultation fails, the holder of the right of layout-design or any 
interested party may bring a law suit before the people's court, or request 
the intellectual property administration department of the State Council to 
handle the matter. When the intellectual property administration department of 
the State Council handling the matter considers that the infringement is 
established, it may order the infringer to stop the infringing act immediately, 
and confiscate or destroy the infringing products or articles. If the party 
concerned is not satisfied with the decision, he may, within 15 days from the 
date of receipt of the notification, bring a lawsuit before the people's 
court in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Law of the People's 
Republic of China. If, within the said time limit, the infringer does not 
institute legal proceedings and refuses to stop the infringing act, the 
intellectual property administration department of the State Council may apply 
to the people's court for compulsory enforcement. The intellectual property 
administration department of the State Council may, upon the request of the 
parties, mediate in the amount of compensation for the damage caused by the 
infringement of the exclusive right of layout-design. If the mediation fails, 
the parties may bring a lawsuit before the people's court in accordance with 
the Civil Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China.

Article 32. Where any holder of the right of layout-design or interested party 
has evidence to prove that another person is infringing or will soon infringe its or his exclusive right and that if such infringing act is not checked or 
prevented from occurring in time, it is likely to cause irreparable harm to its 
or his `legitimate rights, it or he may, before any legal proceedings are 
instituted, request the people's court to adopt measures for ordering the 
suspension of relevant acts and the preservation of property.

Article 33. Where any person commercially exploits an integrated circuit which 
is incorporated an unlawfully reproduced layout-design, or an article which is 
incorporated an integrated circuit with unlawfully reproduced layout-design, and 
if at the time of acquiring the said integrated circuit or article, that person 
did not know and had no reasonable ground to know that the said integrated 
circuit incorporated an unlawfully reproduced layout-design, or the said article 
incorporated an integrated circuit with unlawfully reproduced layout-design, the 
commercial exploitation of such integrated circuit or article by that person 
shall not be deemed as infringing the right of layout design.
After being notified that the integrated circuit or the article is incorporated 
with an unlawfully-reproduced layout-design, the person referred to in the 
preceding paragraph may, subject to payment of reasonable remuneration to the 
holder of the right of layout-design, continue to commercially exploit the stock 
on hand or ordered before the notification. 

Article 34. Where any staff member of the intellectual property administration 
department of the State Council, in the work of layout-design administration, 
neglects his duty, abuses his power or commits illegalities for personal gains 
or by fraudulent means shall be investigated for criminal liability in 
accordance with law if a crime is constituted, if the case is not serious enough 
to constitute a crime, he shall be given administrative sanction in accordance 
with law.

Chapter VI  Supplementary Provisions 

Article 35. When applying for layout-design registration and going through other 
formalities, fees shall be paid as prescribed. The standard of the fees shall be 
fixed by the price administration department of the State Council and the 
intellectual property administration department of the State Council, and shall 
be announced by the intellectual property administration department of the State 
Council.

Article 36. These Regulations shall enter into force as of October 1, 2001. 

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