Copyright/Patent Infringement?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by SirHertzalot, May 20, 2010.

  1. SirHertzalot
    Joined: May 2010
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    SirHertzalot SirHertzalot

    Hi, this is my first post here.

    I've done internet searches and searched these forums, but didn't find an answer to my question:

    There are some small boat plans I want to use in a commericial business venture. I don't want to change the design or claim them for my own. I just want to build and sell them.

    The designer is dead and the boatbuilder who collaborated with the designer publicly sells the plans over the internet.

    Does that make the plans free to use or only for private one-offs?
    Do I need to formally request permission to use the plans in a commercial venture?

    Is there any way of getting direct answers regarding patent/copyright law for dead boat designers besides hiring a lawyer? I even spoke with a boat designer and he didn't know.

    Any answers to my specific situation would be very helpful.
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    No they are protected under intellectual property laws unless the designers say otherwise
  3. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Sounds very much like you are referring to Phil Bolger and his body of work.

    If so, his wife Susan, who is also a very competent naval architect, retains the rights to all of Bolger's design work and the rights to build from his plans. Bolger's work is almost certainly copyrighted under the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act and is protected by same.

    All of my work is protected under that Act, as is the work of pretty much all US based designers.

    You can negotiate the rights to the use of the design with whomever owns the designs at this point, Bolger, or not. I suggest you get in touch with the designer, or the designer's representative and do this correctly.
  4. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    marshmat Senior Member

    Generally speaking, copyrights tend to last for 50 to 70 years after the death of the creator. I believe the VHDPA specifies a much shorter term, though, not sure of the details as it doesn't apply in Canada. It sounds like, in this case, a co-designer is still alive and is actively marketing the drawings, so the design is almost certainly not free for you to use commercially.

    You are, of course, welcome to discuss possible terms of a commercial venture with the surviving co-designer. He might be open to some sort of arrangement. If he's not, you'd have to find a design somewhere else.
  5. portacruise
    Joined: Jun 2009
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    portacruise Senior Member

    The answer to request for using copyright material for a commercial venture is most likely going to be negative, especially if the holder is making a profit. Perhaps you can license or purchase the copyright?

    Copyrights don't really offer much protection anyway, IMHO. Witness Chinese counterfeits.


  6. Grant Nelson
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    Well, since the designer is dead that will be hard to do... ;-)

    It could be the builder has bought the rights. You should contact him and ask what arrangement he has to sell the plans. It could be he owns them entirely, or he has the right to sell them, but not exclusively. If its the later, ask who owns the plans now (if his wife is still alive, likely it is her), or who manages the estate. If you do any business with the builder, then be sure you get a pretty formally looking document with his name and address stating under what conditions he has the rights to sell the plans to you.

    In the end you will probably be paying a fee per boat you build or sell.

  7. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

    Please Chris! From where?
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