An integrated circuit, otherwise known as a microchip, consists of a microscopic array of electronic circuits formed on a silicon base layer. A circuit layout is a two-dimensional representation of the electronic components of the integrated circuit.
In Australia, original circuit layouts are protectable under the Circuit Layout Rights Act 1989.
A circuit layout will be original, except when the circuit involves no creative contribution by the designer or is commonly known.
There is no registration process in Australia as rights are granted automatically when an original circuit layout is created. In other countries, registration may be required.
The rights automatically granted permit the owner to copy the layout in material form, produce an integrated circuit in accordance with the layout, and commercially exploit the layout in Australia.
The maximum term of protection is 10 years from the first commercial exploitation of the layout, provided that the first commercial exploitation occurs within 10 years of the creation of the layout.