a) Overview

A layout-design of an integrated circuit refers essentially to the three-dimensional character of the elements and interconnections of an integrated circuit.

An integrated circuit (IC) is an electronic circuit in which the elements of the circuit are integrated into a medium, and which functions as a unit. Currently the medium used to create this unit is a solid semiconductor such as silicon. The circuit is integrated into the piece of silicon, commonly called a "chip" or a "silicon chip".  The terms "integrated circuit", "semiconductor" and "silicon chip" are used synonymously as commercial ICs are usually fabricated from silicon semiconductors.

b) Protection and Enforcement of Lay-out Designs of Integrated Circuits in Singapore

The law protecting the original lay-out designs of an integrated circuits in Singapore is the Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act (Cap.159A).

An original layout-design is one which is both the result of the creator's own intellectual effort, and which is not commonplace among creators of layout-designs and manufacturers of ICs at the time of its creation.

In Singapore, there is no need to file for registration or deposit of a lay-out-design with IPOS to obtain protection of a lay-out–design under the Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act.

Instead, a citizen or resident of Singapore, or a country which is a member of the World Trade Organization, or a country designated by the Singapore Government as a qualifying country, who owns a layout-design, can gain automatic protection for the layout-design if it qualifies for protection under Singapore law.

Any original lay-out design that has been created after 15 February 1999 will be protected for 10 years if it is first used commercially within five years of creation. In other cases, it will be protected for 15 years from the date of its creation.

Under the Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act, the owner has the right to prevent the copying and commercial exploitation of an original layout-design of an IC.

The owner can exercise his rights under the Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act by taking legal action against the infringing party.