Copyright Protection for Semiconductor Chips?

Copyright protection of semiconductor chips or more appropriately mask works is available under section 901.  The owner of a mask work typically gets the exclusive copyrights to reproduce the mask work, and import or distribute a semiconductor chip product embodying the mask work.

 The Owner is generally the person that first created the mask work.  However, the Owner can also be the employer or the person to whom the initial creator assigned or transferred his or her rights.   Generally, a mask work is protected from the date of commercial exploitation throughout the world or the date of registration of the mask work under section 908. 

Providing a mask work notice to others of your rights can help in protecting your rights.  The mask work is generally protected for ten (10) years, but is subject to certain limitations for reverse engineering, first sale, and innocent infringer defense.  However, this may be a more cost effective alternative for protecting or developing intellectual property rights for semiconductor manufacturers.  

These rights can be enforced through the courts, similar to other intellectual property infringement claims.   If you have any other concerns or questions relating to mask work rights, then please feel free to contact us. 

If you are reading this anywhere, but the Intellectual Property and Employment Law Blog, then you are reading an unauthorized or infringing copy.

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