rights are protected by the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act (SCPA)?
Even if the semiconductor chip is not patentable, owners of Mask Works
and semiconductor chip products who properly register a Mask Work with
the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress can obtain protection
under the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984 (the "SCPA"). The
SCPA protects three-dimensional images or patterns fixed in the semiconductor
product so long as the "topography" of the chip is not singularly dictated
by the electronic function of the chip, nor one of only a small number
of possible design choices. Protection does not extend to an idea or concept,
process, or system behind the semiconductor product. In order to be protected,
the Mask Work must be "original," that is, it must be the independent
creation of an author who did not copy it.
When do I need to register my Mask Work? Mask works MUST be registered within 2 years of first commercial exploitation. The date of registration is the date on which a complete application, fee, and an appropriate deposit representing an acceptable filing are filed with the Copyright Office. If the Mask Work is not registered within this time period, protection under the SCPA will be lost.
For what period of time will my rights extend? The SCPA provides protection of a Mask Work for a period of 10 years from the date of first commercial exploitation, or the date of registration with the Copyright Office, whichever occurs first.
How do I affix a notice including the symbol? An appropriate notice on a semiconductor chip or product includes either the words "Mask Work," the symbol *M*, or the symbol , followed by the name of the owner or a recognizable abbreviation of the owner's name. Such notice is optional, but provides certain benefits to the owner with respect to enforcing rights. Seek legal advice regarding sufficiency of the content and location of the notice.
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