Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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1302 Vessel Design Protection Distinguished from Copyright Protection


1302 Vessel Design Protection Distinguished from Copyright Protection


Vessel design protection is not a form of copyright protection. Congress enacted the VHDPA to provide a new, separate form of special protection for vessel designs in response to the needs of the boat industry, not as an amendment to the copyright law. The legal requirements for vessel design protection differ from those for copyright protection in terms of eligibility for protection, ownership rights, registration procedures, term of protection, and remedies for rights violations.


Vessel designs – the overall shape and form of a water craft’s deck or hull – are useful articles and, as such, cannot be protected by copyright law. See Section 1303.7.


Ornamental two- and three-dimensional decorations on or in the surfaces of the deck or hull might be copyrightable, but the deck and hull themselves are not.


Chapter 13 of Title 17 does not provide, extend, or limit copyright protection for drawings, models, or statuaries of vessels. For more information on protection for ornamental designs, drawings, and other visual arts works, see Chapter 900. For a general discussion of useful articles, see Chapter 900, Section 924.


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