Along with the popular subject matters of intellectual property, such as inventions, utility models, the programmes for electronic computing machines, and so on, the modern legislation also grants protection to such subject matter of intellectual property as an integrated microcircuit topology. In accordance with the Civil Code (Paragraph 1 of Article 1448 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation), an integrated microcircuit topology is a spatial and geometric arrangement of a set of the integrated microcircuit elements and the connections between them, which is fixed on a material medium. At the same time, an integrated microcircuit is a microelectronic product of a final or intermediate form designated to perform the function of an electronic circuit, which elements and connections are inseparably formed in the volume and (or) on the surface of the material, on which basis the product is made. In this case, blocks, triggers, drivers, address stacks and everything else that can be located on the surface of the microcircuit shall be meant by the elements.
The legal protection, in accordance with the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, shall be granted only to the topologies of the integrated microcircuit consisting of the elements that are known to specialists in the field of the development of integrated microcircuit topologies on the date of its creation, if the spatial and geometric arrangement of the set of such elements and connections between them generally comply with the requirement of originality. At the same time, the legal protection granted by this Code shall not be extended to the ideas, methods, systems, technology or the coded information that may be embodied in the integrated microcircuit topology. That is, the integrated microcircuit topology can be compared to some extent with a location map.
The exclusive right to the protected topology is in effect during ten years (Paragraph 1 of Article 1457 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).
The commencement of the effect period of the exclusive right to the protected topology shall be determined according to the earliest of the following dates (Paragraph 2 of Article 1457), namely:
– according to the date of the first use of the protected topology, which shall mean the earliest documented date of the introduction into circulation in the Russian Federation or any foreign country of this topology, an integrated circuit with this topology or a product including such integrated microcircuit;
– according to the date of the registration of the topology with the Federal Executive Authority on Intellectual Property.
The author of the integrated microcircuit topology that complies with the terms for granting the legal protection according to this Code (topology) shall possess the following intellectual rights:
In this case, in accordance with Paragraph 2 of Article 1454, the use of the topology shall be recognized the actions aimed at gaining profits, in particular:
1) reproducing the topology as a whole or in part by including into the integrated microcircuit or in any other way, with the exception of reproducing only that part of the topology that is not original;
2) importing into the territory of the Russian Federation, selling and other introducing into circulation the topology, or the integrated microcircuit, in which this topology is included, or the product including such integrated microcircuit.
To register the integrated microcircuit topology, the following actions should be performed.
The author of the topology or other right holder, directly or through his representative, may optionally register the topology with the Federal Executive Authority on Intellectual Property by filing an application for the state registration of the integrated microcircuit topology.
The topologies containing the information constituting a state and other secret protected by the law shall not be subject to the official registration. The applicant shall be responsible for disclosing the information about the topologies containing a state secret in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.
Filing the application for the registration can be made within a period not exceeding two years from the date of the first use of the topology, if it has taken place. The application for the registration should relate to one topology and it should contain (Paragraph 3 of Article 1452 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation):
1) an application for the state registration of the topology indicating the person, in whose name the state registration is requested, as well as the author, if the latter has not refused to be mentioned as such, the place of residence or location of each of them, the date of the first use of the topology, if it has taken place;
2) the deposited materials identifying the topology, including an abstract;
3) a document confirming the payment of a fee in the prescribed amount or the grounds for exemption from paying the fee, or for reducing its size, or for postponing its payment.
The rules for formalizing an application for the registration are established by the Federal Executive Authority that exercises the legal and normative regulation in the field of intellectual property (Paragraph 4 of Article 1452 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).
After receiving the application for the registration, the Federal Executive Authority on Intellectual Property checks the availability of the necessary documents and their compliance with the requirements of the legislation (Paragraph 5 of Article 1452 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation). If the results of the check are positive, the Federal Authority enters the topology into the Register of Integrated Microcircuit Topologies, grants a certificate of the state registration of the integrated microcircuit topology to the applicant and publishes the information on the registered topology in the official bulletin.
At the request of the Federal Executive Authority on Intellectual Property or at the own initiative, the applicant is entitled, before publishing the information in the official bulletin, to append, clarify and amend the materials of the application for the registration.
In order to notify about his rights, the right holder of the topology or his successor has the right to indicate on the protected topology, as well as on the products that include such topology, a notification on this in the form of highlighted capital letter T (“T,” [T], T* or T), the date of the commencement of the term of the effect of the exclusive right to the protected topology and the information allowing an identification of the right holder.
The right to use the protected topology, as well as the exclusive right to the protected topology may be transferred to other individuals or legal entities under an agreement.
Moreover, if the integrated microcircuit topology has been registered with the Federal Executive Authority, then the agreements on the alienation and on the pledge of the exclusive right to the registered topology, the license agreements on granting the right to use the registered topology and the transfer of the exclusive right to such topology to other persons without an agreement shall be subject to the state registration with the Federal Executive Authority on Intellectual Property.
The information on the change of the right holder and on encumbering the exclusive right to the topology shall be entered into the Register of Integrated Microcircuit Topologies on the basis of the registered agreement or other title document and shall be published in the specified official bulletin.
The integrated microcircuit topology is the most important subject matter of intellectual property in the field of microelectronics. When the topology is created, the author is looking for a specific solution exactly regarding the microcircuit operation, however, it is not the content of this solution that will be protected by the law, but only the form — the arrangement of the microcircuit elements.