Copied Hull - no copyright violation?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Claus Riepe, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. Arvy
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    Arvy Senior Member

    I rather find this a funny discussion, although funny might not be the right word for it, but hey I am not native english so don't blame me for it.

    Although I do think that taking a mould from an existing hull is illegal or at least very unethical, I have a hard time thinking about how anyone could prove that someone has done it.

    For example, I designed 3 yachts in the last 2 years (one of them I hope to start building next spring) all from scratch, but they all do in some way look like any other yacht. Simply because of simple design rule of thumbs, for example the boat I will be building is going to have a 40 foot hull, and let me ask you all wouldn't you all make the beam between 12 and 14 foot (mine will be 13). The same will probably be the case for other parameter like the angle of the stem, the stern and you can go on like that for most of them.

    So if a designer sees my boat, and thinks "hey that is my design" (even though I designed it from scratch) what could he possibly do, ask me to show him my drawings, order me to lift out the boat so he can measure it? I have no idea to be honest.

    Probably for a home builder this doens't matter, but when one wants to sell these kind of ships how can one protect themselves from this to happen. I am thinking about starting my own busines building my own designs and sell the boats, but if a designer wanted to take me out of business immediately he could just say I stole his design. The legal costs will make me go bankrupt immediately, even tho I didn't do any thing illegal.
  2. chandler
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    chandler Senior Member

    If you go back to the 20s and 30s I think you will find that the hull form was copied or very similar from designer to designer, especially in racing boats.
  3. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Of course they were, and in the racing community still are. Racing boats evolve. There are exceptions, for instance the first three point hydroplane racing in the Gold Cup, but then after that everybody built hydroplanes. Look at the America's cup. for many years all the boats looked pretty much alike until the Aussies introduced a winged keel.

    Even today if you walk down the aisles at a boat show you'll see very few differences in the hulls between major boat lines, The topsides will be different but down below it's like cookie cutter boats.

    It's only been the last 20 years or so when builders began suing other builders for copying designs, but it's only in the last 20 years that the boat biz has become BIG business. When there's a lot of money involved companies are will to spend the money to protect their designs.
  4. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

    Here vwe go, an actual example>

    See page 11 of 44:

    E4651 / Case
    Swarbrick v Burge
    (2004) IPR 129
    In this case, a naval architect obtained an interim injunction against a rival company and its employees who were
    reverse engineering a mould of a yacht for future manufacture.
    In late 2002, Mr Swarbrick had given a hull and decking mould of the JS9000 to his employee, Mr Rogers as a
    bonus. Mr Rogers and other employees resigned and joined a rival company to manufacture the JS9000 from this
    Mr Swarbrick claimed that the respondents' reproduction of the JS 9000 infringed his copyright. The respondents
    argued that the moulding for the JS9000 Yacht was a "corresponding design" which had been "applied
    industrially" but not registered under the Designs Act 1906 (Cth) and sought to rely upon the defence to
    infringement under s77 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).
    The Federal Court considered that it was strongly arguable that the defence under s77 would not apply on the
    grounds that the mould and the JS9000 yacht were "works of artistic craftsmanship". The Court also discussed Mr
    Swarbrick's intent to make an article possessing aesthetic quality. Intent of the creator and its result is an
    important factor in determining whether a work is of artistic craftsmanship.
    Weighing up the balance of convenience to the parties, the Court award the interim injunction.
    NB The injunction was continued in June 2004 after Carr J found that the respondents had infringed Mr
    Swarbrick’s copyright. This decision is also reported in this edition of Updates.
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    RAY TOSTADO Junior Member

    Chandler, I like to think of it as going in the same direction.

    As an owner, since past, of a premier Alden design, 44' yawl, I find no coincidence to other hull forms of that era 1937. Garden, Hershoff, Schock, Sparkman, et Al..

    What is very important in this discussion is to remember there were no production boats. Although my specific boat was #5 in a series of the same design, each was built to the buyer's intent. The intent of Estrella's owner was to kick some butt. Mine, of 5 built, was the only single planked hull. The prior sisters were double planked. Obviously, they weighed more.

    I refer back to my mention of good design = fast, stands as proof since Estrella, with a mere 29.5 waterline, was capable of sustaining speeds over 9 knots on a reach. This is where a copy cat would fail.

    This fair speed demon was dependent on the sail plan and weight trim.

    People who just copy obviously don't understand the dynamics of design. Copying any hull form is such a waste of time. Designing is a function to improve, not imitate. With respect for inherant craftsmanship,

    Also, remember that one court ruled this judgement you refer to. Any court in matters shuch as this are very arbitrary and subjective, they are virtual while lacking in reality.

    What does a judge understand about hull form? Not unless he was a designer or performanace owner. He read opinions, listened to arguments, and precluded wisdom on the subject matter. Hmmph!!

    The truth be known, a simple change of .5 inches of any dimension affects performance so radically as to make the original form irrelevent.

    Just remember, we can all speak the same tongue, but our meaning is differential to our cause.

    1 person likes this.
  6. hmattos
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    hmattos Senior Member

    Yes here in the UK there have been cases where boat manufacturers have successfully claimed licence fees off people who mould from their boats. However, in most cases the legal costs are too high to make any action work, so " private action" may be more effective.
    In general there are so many companies which go bust that anyone can pick up the moulds or copy a boat without problem.
    When it does go to court, the accepted judgement is that if more than 85% of the lines are the same then it is a copy. However, If someone copies my boats, it is probable that they do it because they have little money, so what is the point of my sueing them. I will pay my legal and court costs, and get nothing back!
    Hugh Mattos
    Chartered Engineer
  7. chandler
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    chandler Senior Member

    "refer to the clippings", Probably the most repeated quote in Chapelles "yacht designing and planning", one would assume he meant stay as close to the design that one is interested in as possible.
  8. COOL Mobility
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    COOL Mobility Sailor using wheelchair

    Intellectual Property

    S stated before, a hull shape cannot be patented as a patent is defines as the way it works and most hulls work the same so no patent would be granted.
    Design registration covers the external shape, colour, pattern but needs to be taken out, maintained and has a limited life. Infringement very expensive to take to court.
    Copyright is automatic in most places now but is nigh on impossible to enforce except in blatant published works. Very expensive litigation.
    What was done was not legal but it was not ethical.

    Original designer's best option is to ridicule the design in publications with articles or adverts to ruin the cheater's reputation. Remember libel is only libel if it can be proved to be incorrect! If you only state the truth, and can prove it, it is not libelous.

    IP laws are expensive to take out and very expensive to enforce as you need to litigate. Rarely worth it.
  9. PI Design
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    PI Design Senior Member

    One of the biggest Laser suppliers in the UK has for sometime offered 'replica' sails - near as damn it identical to the official Laser sail, but at a fraction of the cost. It can not be used in official laser regattas, but is okay for recreational sailing and club racing. Recently he has started offering replica parts as well - rudder stocks, goosenecks etc. The only thing he doesn't offer is a replica hull. Maybe that's next?
  10. SAE140

    SAE140 Guest

    You guys seem to be obsessed with hull shape as if that were the only aspect of boat manufacture that mattered. What about scantling dimensions and lay-up technique and the quality of the materials used, and the strength of rudder components and deck fittings etc (?) - the list is more-or-less endless.

    I've seen too many commercially-built boats with a designer tag on them which turned out to be so much rubbish 20 years down the line.

    Hull shape - who cares about the finer points - unless you're into racing.

    I'd much rather have a knocked-off design that was *really well built* than the kosher article if that was built to a budget.

  11. kutter
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    kutter New Member

    Coppied Hull

    So prety much what happens is unless it's a major Company you ripped off you are pretty much safe. You or I if we "Invent the next three point hydro" aren't going to have the money to prevent anyone who wants to from copping our work and innumerable foreign "Clones" from being built. So build 'em well and fair boys make 'em the best you can... that way at least yours will be around in 40 years!

    Joe !
  12. Dan Ellison
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    Dan Ellison Junior Member

    It is called the vessal hull protection act and it is administrated by the us copywrite office. You register your hull for a little piece of mind, but theives are theives and they don't care about any of that. How about use some thought and come up with your own ideas. Best thing I have found is to trademark your name, logo, ect. , that way any thing you build under that umbrella is protected and cannot be sold (legally)
  13. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

    Using somebody work and changing things like adding freeboard means changing everything in the calculation,centers and weights. It is careless, extremely dangerous, dishonnest, greedy and illegal. If he says it's legal it's because nobody went after him. Try to do the same with an airplane and be the pilot of the airplane, then you will tel me what you think. I bet you will even get close to the "change" airplane. Boat are like airplane.
  14. HarryN
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    HarryN Junior Member

    Cars vs boats

    Hi, I was just curious - does this "vessel" protection apply to autos / trucks as well as boat hulls ? The reason I ask, is that if MB and BMW applied it to their designs, Toyota would be out of business.

  15. RHP
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    RHP Senior Member

    and all the Japanese motorbike manufacturers 30 years ago.
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