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Chip pirates: Beware the law: A new Federal statute is written to protect semiconductor chip designs; the law, however, contains ambiguities that have yet to be tested

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1 Author(s)
Michael D. McCoy ; Bell, Seltzer, Park, & Gibson, Charlotte, NC, USA

To combat chip piracy and to give semiconductor companies legal recourse against copies, the US Congress passed a bill setting up the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984-the first new form of protection for intellectual property in the United States since the Lanham Act of the 1870s codified the protection of trademarks. The Chip Protection Act is important primarily because it creates intellectual property rights for features that are purely functional i.e. for features outside the scope of protection of either copyrights or patents. Various provisions of the act are discussed and the way in which the act is enforced is explained. It is noted that, under certain conditions, the act can protect companies in other countries.

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 7 )