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Mask Works are defined in the 1976 Copyright Act as: a series of related images, however fixed or encoded (1) having or representing the predetermined three‐dimensional pattern of metallic, insulating, or semiconductor material present or removed from the layers of a semiconductor chip product; and (2) in which series the relation of the images to one another is that each image has the pattern of the surface of one form of the semiconductor chip product.
The Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984, provides protection of a Mask Work for a period of 10 years from the date of first commercial exploitation, or the date of registration with the Copyright Office, whichever occurs first, and gives the owner exclusive rights to its exploitation. Failure to apply for registration within two years of the initial commercial exploitation results in the termination of the exclusive rights.