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Intellectual Property in Industrial Designs: Issues in Innovation and Competition
John R. Thomas (au)
Under current intellectual property laws, industrial designs may potentially be protected through design patents, trade dress, and copyright. In addition, the Vessel Hull Design Protection Actestablished a specialized, or sui generis, intellectual property right for the protection of boat hull designs. Some experts argue that the present intellectual property regime does not adequately protect industrial designers. In the 111th Congress, two bills would establish a “repair” exemption within the Patent Act. Although potentially of broad application, H.R. 3059 and S. 1368, each titled the “Access to Repair Parts Act,” appear to have been motivated by the enforcement of design patents that are said to restrict competition in the secondary market for automobile replacement parts. Also in the 111th Congress, legislation has been introduced that would establish proprietary rights in fashion designs. H.R. 2196, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, would provide a three-year term of protection for fashion designs based upon registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. Contents of this report: (I) Industrial Designs and Intellectual Property: Copyright; Trade Dress; Design Patents; Vessel Hull Design Protection; (III) Current Issues in Industrial Design Protection: Intellectual Property Rights in Fashion Designs; U.S. Adherence to the Hague Convention; Automobile Spare Parts; Judicial Developments Concerning Design Patents; (III) Issues in Innovation and Competition.
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