The new regulations on the protection of layout designs establishes' a system for the registration of integrated circuits that is to be overseen by the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). A layout design of an integrated circuit must be deemed original to receive such protection.
Layout designs will be registered without a substantive examination procedure. The registered owners of layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits shall enjoy, for a maximum of ten years, the exclusive right to reproduce the protected original layout design and to import, sell, and distribute the protected original layout design for commercial purposes.
Layout designs of foreign nationals shall be protected provided the design is first put into commercial use in China, or the foreign national is from a member state of any international treaty dealing with such rights to which China is also a member. The introduction of the regulations will bring China's intellectual property legislation on layout designs of integrated circuits into line with TRIPS. However, the new legislation confers the minimum level of protection required. Protection of layout designs is limited to semiconductor integrated circuits, formal registration is required for protection, protection is allowed to lapse 15 years after the creation of the layout design and certain actions do not require the registrant's authorization.
New implementation rules for the regulations have recently been promulgated.