Case re Vessel Hull Design Registration

Thursday, July 28, 2005
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a vessel hull design that merely corrects a mistake in an earlier design is not substantial. In the instant case, plaintiff boat company designed and produced a new boat. The vessel hull design was submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office for registration, but the submittal was made too late after production had started to qualify. The boat was redesigned to correct minor mistakes in the original design. The revised vessel hull design was then submitted for copyright protection and accepted. Two other companies began producing boats the design of which was similar to that of plaintiff’s redesigned boat. Plaintiff brought suit. The court held that, for the design of the second vessel hull design to be eligible for registration, the changes from the original design must be substantial. No evidence was submitted to show that the corrections of mistakes made in the original design were other than minor. The court cancelled plaintiff’s vessel hull design registration. Maverick Boat Company, Inc. v. American Marine Holdings, Inc., No. 04-11259 (11th Cir. – HK Law).

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