For the first time in its history, Egypt has introduced protection for the layout-designs of integrated circuits. The required protection is the result of Egypt's obligations to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In this article, the manner by which the new Egyptian law on the protection of intellectual property rights implements the obligations of WTO's TRIPs Agreement in relation to layout-designs of integrated circuits, is examined. The article also considers the Egyptian legislators exploitation of the residual freedom in the Agreement for Egypt and other WTO Members to incorporate appropriate measures that meet public interest. Finally, an investigation is made into the granting of such a protection that aims to attract Foreign Direct Investments and encourages Research and Development in Egypt.
The article begins with background material on integrated circuits, focusing on the historical development of the sui generis regime which was introduced under the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984 of the United States of America. An overview of the TRIPs Agreement is also provided. Subsequently, a concise explanation of the provisions of the law that implement the TRIPs Agreement minimum standards in relation to integrated circuits is presented. A critical assessment of the law is addressed, followed by a conclusion.