Quantum computer circuit designs as IP rights

The progress of computer processor manufacturing technology may soon come to a great barrier, due to physical transistor size limitations.

Currently, the most advanced computer processor manufacturing technology implements 7nm transistors. This is already infinitely smaller than a human red blood cell or even viruses and is dangerously close to the atomic level. At these sizes, the ordinary process of conveying ones and zeroes through a circuit is fraught with danger, for a phenomenon called quantum tunneling may occur[1]. This may cripple the computer’s ability to perform even the simplest operations.

Therefore, is progress hindered forever?

Not quite so, fortunately. Recent advancements in quantum computer technologies give us a glimpse of how future computers may tackle the quantum tunneling issue.

Quantum computers use the physical properties of superposition – each value of a particle’s state (attributable to ones and zeroes) may exist at any given moment, with the same probability. Observation of the particle allows the particle to have its value established. Such a particle containing an equally probable value of both 1 and 0 is called a qubit (derived from quantum bit). The more qubits a quantum computer may process, the higher its potential output of operations per second.

This in turn may result in quantum computers performing on a level far superior than that out of ordinary transistor computers.

Quantum computer IP protection

Development of quantum computers may well usher in a new dawn of qubit based computers. Currently however, the state of quantum technology may be compared to the state where traditional computer technology was in the 1940s.

The amount of research and development put in to introducing quantum computing technology to day-to-day appliances is not feeble, by any measure.

Thankfully, this investment may be offset with appropriate IP protection action aimed at barring third parties from reproducing the original parts of the circuit or putting such knock-offs onto the market. This may be achieved e.g. by registering a little known industrial property right – topographies or layout designs of integrated circuits.

These rights may be registered on a national level with Patent Offices. In Poland, the protection lapses after 10 years of application and may be used for customs seizures.

Surely, with the novel and exotic obstacles in the way of a full market implementation of the quantum computing technology, there may be a need for developing inventive and original integrated circuits’ layout designs. These designs present a great amount of investment and some may prove to deserve the law’s protection.


[1] A transistor may be compared to a simple electrical switch, outputting zeroes (no flow of electricity) and ones (electricity flow present). The quantum tunneling phenomenon may result in the transistor outputting the wrong information, e.g. by outputting a 1, when in actuality the transistor – switch is turned off and should output a 0. More on this, please refer to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_tunnelling

Jakub Kubalski

Jakub Kubalski
Adwokat, Senior Associate



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