Senate Passes Leahy-Championed Bill To Protect Vessel Hull Designers

The Senate Tuesday unanimously adopted a bipartisan bill that will protect the work and innovation of ship designers across the country.  The legislation, which passed the House in July, was also introduced in the Senate by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).  The Senate last year unanimously approved similar legislation, and the updated bill passed today provides additional clarification for the U.S. Navy’s fleet. 


The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Leahy and Judiciary Committee members Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) on June 10.  The bill will amend the original Vessel Hull Act passed in 1998 to clarify the difference between the “hull” and the “deck” of a ship, closing a loophole that has been exploited to infringe the intellectual property rights of vessel hull designers.  The loophole has been exposed in court decisions.  The updated legislation passed Tuesday addresses recent concerns expressed by the Navy, and provides assurance to the Department of Defense that government and defense designs will not be subject to unwarranted restrictions.


“This is a small but important piece of legislation, and has bipartisan support,” said Leahy.  “This updated version was introduced to address concerns of the Navy, and gives the Department of Defense full assurance that government and defense designs will not be subject to unwarranted restrictions.”

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