What the future holds

Looking forward, passage of the VHDP amendments will ease some of the boat builders’ challenges in protecting their IP, but other legislation looming on the horizon may prove to muddy
the patent waters.

The Patent Reform Act, which was introduced in 2007 and is currently under consideration in Congress, has generated significant controversy with its proposed changes, such as limiting compensatory damages in infringement suits to the infringer’s direct economic gain.

According to William Fryer, a patent lawyer and professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, who has a two-foot stack of materials relating to patent reform sitting on his desk, although the proposed changes deal with utility patents, they could also affect design patents.

“The original patent act is one statute that includes utility patents, design patents and plant patents,” he says. “So when you change that one law, unless you are very specific, you change everything.”

Currently, the status of the bill changes frequently.

“In my opinion, it is too overwhelming,” he concludes. “I don’t think they have thought through some of what they are proposing.”

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