Vessel Hull Design Protection Amendments Clear Congress
On September 30, the United States Senate approved H.R. 6531, the Vessel Hull Design Protection Amendments Act of 2008, without amendment. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on July 22, and thus the Senate action sends the bill to the president for signing into law.
H.R. 6531 provides copyright-like protection for original designs of boat hulls, decks, or combined hulls and decks. As enacted in 1998 as chapter 13 of title 37, United States Code, the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act currently provides protection for vessel hulls, and defines a hull as including a deck. This definition led to a federal circuit court of appeals decision that a design for a hull not including a deck does not qualify for protection. H.R. 6531 provides for separate protection for hulls and decks, and continues protection for combinations. It also contains a provision exempting designs owned by the Department of Defense from coverage under the Act.