USPTO and Copyright Office to Hold Hearing on Vessel Hull Design Protection Act

To Solicit Views of Marine Industry on IP Protection of Watercraft Designs
Press Release

Ruth Nyblod
703-305-8341 or
Copyright Office:
William J. Roberts
202-707-8380 or

Thursday, March 27, 2003
10 a.m.
Library of Congress
Room 414, James Madison Memorial Building
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC

The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Library of Congress' Copyright Office will hold a public hearing to solicit the views of the marine industry on the effectiveness of the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act as part of a Congressionally mandated study. Topics to be discussed include the effectiveness of the current Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, how it has promoted the advancement of designs, and what amendments, if any, need to be made to improve its effectiveness.

Congress passed the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act (VHDPA) as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, providing intellectual property protection for original designs of watercraft hulls and decks. The VHDPA was slated to sunset after two years, but in 1999, as part of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act, Congress made it a permanent part of the law. Congress also directed the Register of Copyrights and the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the VHDPA and report their findings to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

Although design protection under the VHDPA and copyright protection are both administered by the Register of Copyrights, they are not identical. Design protection differs significantly in most respects, including term of protection, ownership, eligibility, scope of protection and registration procedures. While some designs that are eligible for design protection also may be eligible for copyright protection, design registration does not include a copyright registration. Copyright registration must be made separately. Design protection is not available, and registration may not be made, for designs that have received patents.

For additional information, see Federal Register Vol. 68, No. 30, February 13, 2003: