Thursday, May 19, 2011

Patent for Layout Design of Integrated Circuits

The Living Letter by Alvin J. Buenaventura of FILCOLS
Translated from Filipino by Beverly W. Siy

Creations of the human mind are called Intellectual Property or IP. There are two kinds of IP: the copyright and the industrial property. Under the industrial property is a branch called patent. It is the right and the protection given by the government to inventors and their inventions.

Play Station, cellphone, laptop, fuel injected car, PCOS machine and space shuttle.

What do they have in common?



Microchip is that tiny piece of semiconductor material that carry integrated circuit. That’s why microchip is also known as IC or integrated circuit. It is the driving force behind the electronic gadgets and machines that were mentioned above.

Before microchips were born, lots of vacuum tubes were needed just to make an electrical appliance like television work. You may want to check the TV of your father-in-law. All you have to do is pry it open and check all the tubes inside.

Vacuum tubes use up a lot of electricity and heat up easily. So they were replaced by transistors which are incredibly smaller than the tubes. They are as small and thin as worms. They come in different colors. You may want to check the radio of your father-in-law. You’ll be surprised to find a city of colorful worms called transistors waiting for you.

Eventually, it was the integration of transistors in a super small chip that changed the lives of the electronic gadgets and machines forever. A single chip, (the inedible one, my friend) the size of a stamp can contain millions of transistors. This is the reason why cellphones as small as a child’s palm can be used to make and receive calls, to listen to the radio, to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers through its calculator and to take pictures and videos. Cellphones can also contain loads of data like names, messages, images, audio files and many more.

Microchips last longer than vacuum tubes and they don’t eat up a lot of electricity. That’s plus points for the microchip.

The designs of IC can be protected through patent. The patent can last for 10 years. The lay out or the design of the integrated circuits is the reason why a gadget works the way it does.

The owner of the patent is the only authorized person/company to manufacture a certain design of IC. It goes on for ten years. The owner may also opt to authorize another person/company to manufacture it as long as it is within ten years since the patent was registered. It cannot be renewed after this period of time. Other people or company will already be permitted to use the IC design or copy/duplicate it.

Our world changed dramatically because IC. Communications and the exchange of information became faster than ever. Unfortunately, miscommunications and exchange of false information became more frequent and speedier as well.

Through the use of cellphone, people gathered easily and fast in EDSA to oust a rotten head of state. Because of the perpetuation of new gadgets, more jobs were created and more families were able to benefit from them.

PCOS machines helped the government in producing more credible election results. The election results were also produced faster than before.

And to top it all, these are just a few of the things that ICs and IP can do.
In the next leaf of The Living Letter, patents for new kinds of plants will be presented and discussed. Stay with us and don’t g(r)o(w). Just yet.

Authors, publishers or heirs of copyright owners are invited to join FILCOLS. We will help you protect your copyright over your works. To join, one only needs to have published works, or one needs to be the heirs of an author or has the right to manage the rights of an author. Membership is free. If you have queries, email us at

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