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World Semiconductor Council tackles IP protection

Posted: 19 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semiconductor? wsc? ip?

Firing an apparent warning shot across China's bow, the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) Thursday, May 13, 2004, addressed several policy issues, including intellectual property, the environment and trade.

To address policy issues, the WSC created a new Intellectual Property Task Force. The group also adopted a policy paper describing an approach for providing IP protection for IC layout designs, the group said.

The WSC, which represents European, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and U.S. chipmakers, also reiterated plans to invite China to join the group. It agreed to take quick action when the Chinese industry files it membership application.

The WSC did not mention China by name, but called on all governments to enforce IP rights and to fund patent offices to ensure timely, accurate issuance of patents.

"The new WSC policy on layout design IP, coupled with the WSC's call for enforcement actions that provide an effective deterrent against IP violations, can make a real dent in illegal copying of semiconductor designs," said George Scalise, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

At last year's meeting, the group criticized China for imposing a 17-percent value added tax (VAT) on semiconductors while providing eligible domestic producers with a rebate, lowering their effective tax rate to 3 percent.

China's practice of providing rebates to domestic products, while at the same time charging imports the full VAT, became the subject of a World Trade Organization case in March. The first WTO consultations were held in April.

The WSC urged that WTO consultations on the VAT reach a prompt resolution that leads to a 3-percent VAT rate on all semiconductors, regardless of origin.

The chip group also backed other actions that would facilitate consumer access to advanced chip technologies at the lowest costs. WSC recommendations included urging governments and authorities to: avoid mandatory technical standards, and to follow WSC-specified principles when standards are mandatory; prohibit the imposition of levies on digital equipment and blank digital recording media; and treat multichip ICs the same as general integrated circuits in terms of customs classification codes, thereby allowing them to remain tariff-free.

WSC membership includes the boards of the European Semiconductor Industry Association, Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, Korea Semiconductor Industry Association, U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association and the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association.

- Mark LaPedus

Silicon Strategies

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