Protect Your Boat Hull Designs Under Copyright Law


Boat vessel hull designs can be protected by design registration under less well known provisions of the United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C. 1301-1332.

This design registration protects a vessel hull, deck or combination of hull and deck, which is an original design that is attractive or distinctive in appearance. The law also covers plugs and molds for making hulls and decks.  Protection is for a ten year term commencing on the date when the vessel is publicly exhibited, distributed, offered for sale or sold, and an application for design registration must be made within two years from the date when the vessel was first publicly exhibited, offered for sale or sold.

Notice for a protected design is similar to a copyright notice and comprises any of the following notations “Protected Design”, “Prot’d Des”, (D) or *D*, the year date protection commenced and the owners name or abbreviation of the name.  After registration, the registration number may be used instead of the foregoing. Absence of Notice can prevent recovery from infringement.

The owner of a registered design has the exclusive right to make, have made, sell, distribute, use or import vessels having the registered design.  Infringement can be redressed by a Federal Court action or by an action against importation in an ITC proceeding.  Remedies for infringement include injunction, damages and seizure, and destruction of the infringing items.

Vessel hulls and decks can also be the subject of design patents, but if a design patent is obtained for the same design, the design registration will terminate.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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