Legal Framework

Layout Designs

For a more detailed treatment of layout-designs law in Jamaica see Jamaica: Intellectual Property by Dianne Daley, International Encyclopaedia of Laws, Kluwer Law International, Intellectual Property – Suppl. 47 (September 2008).


The Layout-Designs (Topographies) Act No. 30 of 1999 came into force on September 3, 1999. The Act was passed in fulfilment of Jamaica’s obligations under Section 6 of the TRIPS Agreement which obliges Members to provide protection to the layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits in accordance with particular articles of the Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits (IPIC Treaty) and to comply with additional standards of protection for layout-designs as outlined in Articles 36-38 of the TRIPS Agreement.

A layout-design (also described as topography) is the design element of a semiconductor chip or integrated circuit, several of which are used in the creation of computers and other electronic devices. There is no layout-design or semiconductor chip manufacturing industry in Jamaica and prior to 1999 there was no domestic legislation designed specifically to protect this form of design. No regulations have been promulgated under the Act.

In order to be protected under the Act the layout-design must be original in that it must result from the creator’s intellectual effort and must not be commonplace in the layout-design or integrated circuit industry at the time of its creation. Layout-designs which comprise a combination of elements and interconnections that are commonplace, can only be protected under the Layout-Designs Act “if the combination taken as a whole is original” in the sense outlined above.

The rights in a protected layout-design comprise the exclusive right on the part of the owner to, and to authorize another person to, (a) reproduce the whole or part of the layout-design by any means, whether by its embodiment in an integrated circuit or otherwise, except to the extent that the layout-design is not regarded as original pursuant to section 4 (2) and (b) import, distribute or otherwise commercially exploit the layout-design or the integrated circuit in which it is embodied. Distribution includes selling, leasing, to bail or otherwise transfer or to offer to sell, lease, bail or otherwise transfer the layout-design or the integrated circuit in which it is embodied.

Under the Act there are no requirements for registration or other formalities. Once the qualifications for protection are met (i.e. the owner, or in the case of joint ownership, one of the owners is a Jamaican citizen or habitual resident of Jamaica or a citizen or habitual resident of a specified country) and the layout-design is original as outlined in section 4(2) and was not commercially exploited before the appointed day of the Act, protection is automatic.

With no registration system it has been difficult to ascertain whether this law is being utilized. No civil action has been brought in Jamaica under this Act.

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