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Boatbuilders awarded increased protection

President George W. Bush signed the Vessel Hull Protection Act Amendments (VHDPA) into law last Thursday, according to a press release from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

The law will protect boat manufacturers from intellectual property violations through “hull splashing,” which is the practice of making an unauthorized copy of a hull design, adding cosmetic changes, and then claiming it as unique.

“The VHDPA amendments recognize the great amount of time and money that goes into developing state-of-the-art vessels,” says NMMA President Thom Dammrich in the release. “This new and improved VHDPA is a huge step forward in protecting the intellectual property of boat manufacturers.

The NMMA has worked with three sessions of Congress in six years to clarify the VHDPA of 1998, which was the first design protection statute of its kind, according to the report. The definition of what a hull was in the original statute made proving infringement difficult, but the new terms now allow manufacturers the full protection that was originally intended.

For information on the VHDPA, contact NMMA counsel Bryan Zumwalt at (202) 737-9764 or e-mail

— Elizabeth Ellis