Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 6531, the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act Amendments (VHDPA) of 2008. The amendments, which passed in the House of Representatives in July 2008 and require signature from the President before becoming law, will provide boat manufacturers with increased protection from intellectual property violations that occur through “hull splashing.”
Hull splashing is the process where an infringer replicates an original vessel hull by making copies using a mold made from the vessel hull of another manufacturer. This legislation will recognize the substantial amount of time and money that boat manufacturers invest into developing cutting-edge technologies and innovative vessels.
“We are anxious for the President to sign this bill into law so we can declare victory on this very crucial issue our industry has had to fight for so many years,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich. “Our special thanks go to Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), as well as Representatives Howard Berman (D-Cali.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) for their leadership on VHDPA.”
NMMA has been working diligently through three sessions of Congress over six years to strengthen and clarify the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act of 1998, which was the first industrial design protection statute of its kind. Because of the way a hull was defined in the original legislation and subsequent court opinions, enforcement has been curtailed because of the difficulty in proving infringement. The Vessel Hull Design Protection Act Amendments correct this technical issue, allowing boat manufacturers the full protection originally intended in the 1998 VHDPA.