An integrated circuit (a “chip”) is an electronic circuit composed of components placed on a semi-conductor substrate. Registration of the layout-design (topography) of an integrated circuit provides an exclusive right to the layout-design. The layout-design (or topography), on the other hand, describes the three dimensional positioning of the elements of the integrated circuit. Developing an integrated circuit may be very expensive, whereas copying of a circuit is usually extremely cheap. It is, therefore, vital to be able to protect the original layout-design of an integrated circuit.
The creator of the layout-design has the right to register it. Accordingly, the right can only be held by an individual, and not by a company. The right may, however, be assigned to a company. If the layout design is created in the course of the creator’s employment, the employer is usually entitled to obtain the exclusive right to the layout-design through registration, unless otherwise agreed.