Report to Parliament on Review of the Integrated Circuit Topography Act
This report satisfies the statutory requirement pursuant to Section 28 of the Integrated Circuit Topography Act that the Minister of Industry undertake a review of the provisions and operation of the Act within five years of its coming into force and then submit a report to each House of Parliament before May 1, 1999.
Bill C-57 received Royal Assent in 1990 and the Act came into force in 1993. It satisfied industry demands for access to export markets, in particular in the United States, and was consistent with international norms then evolving. Currently, over 90% of microelectronic devices and services produced in Canada are destined for the US.
The semiconductor industry in Canada benefits from intellectual property framework laws in a variety of ways. The processes and integrated circuit products may be eligible for patent protection, and documentation is protected by copyright. The topography or design of the integrated circuit is subject to protection under the Integrated Circuit Topography Act.
The Act provides exclusive rights for the creator of the integrated circuit topography or its successor in title, remedies to deter infringement and provisions to encourage research and teaching. The Act protects registered topographies for up to ten years from the filing date or from the date of first commercial exploitation, whichever comes first. It is also consistent with requirements of international trade agreements negotiated since it was adopted (NAFTA and WTO-TRIPs). There have been 38 registrations under the Act since it came into force, half registered by Canadians.
Consultations were carried out in order to obtain stakeholders' views on the provisions and operation of the Act. Two issues arose:
- consider increasing the scope of protection under the Act;
- and consider changes to the Regulations in order to reduce the filing burden for applicants.
In creating an opening for trade with the USA, the European Union and other trading partners, the Act has already helped to increase productivity, improve job prospects, and increase the rate of economic growth in Canada. Canada's legislation on integrated circuit topographies compares favourably with the laws of our trading partners, and any strengthening of protection afforded by the Act would benefit foreign nationals more than Canadians due to the national treatment provision of NAFTA and WTO-TRIPS. Hence, it appears that the Act provides the framework necessary for the semiconductor industry to grow and prosper and that amendments to the Act are not needed at this time. Adjustments to the regulations are being considered and would not require any changes to the regulatory authority already in the Act.