Bonito Boats v. ThunderCraft

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➢ Bonito Boats made a hull design and mfr method for a fiberglass hull boat – didn’t patent either – 5VBR boat
➢ 6 years later, Florida Leg. Prohibited repro. Of unpatented boat hulls and Bonito sued Thunder 
➢ Trial court, Florida Appeals, and Florida SC affirmed dismissal
  • Ruled Florida statute overruled by fed patent law – Supremacy clause
➢ Ruling made clear state reg of int. prop. Must yield to fed law
  • Essentially gave patent like protection to unpatented ideas – eliminated free competition sponsored by Fed on unpatentable items
  • Law essentially gave eternal protection even for publicly released data
  • Prohibits reverse engineering of a common product
  • The study and combination of unpatented articles may lead to sig. tech advances
➢Decision – O’Connor – USSC

-Section 1 - Background

➢ Must decide what states’ rights are in terms of IP that patent laws leave unprotected
➢ Florida in conflict with CA – USSC sides with FLSC – FL law wrong
➢ Based on the fact that only a patent can protect things in the public domain – defense was that the law only prohibits one means of reproduction not all

-Section 2 – Why law is bad in this part. case

➢ US Const. gives power but also limits the power for patents – limited time protection and cant be used to remove already existing knowledge form the  public domain
➢ TJ stressed importance of patented thing couldn’t have been in public work prior to patent – Sections of the US code enforce this
➢ In general – state laws that offer protect for stuff already discloased may conflict with the very purpose of the fed patent laws
➢ State trade secret laws are ok because they do not go against the inherent framework and goals of the fed patent laws

-Section 3 – Taking down the FL law

➢ Doesn’t operate to really protect against unfair competition – usually guards against consumer confusion as to source
➢ FL law doesn’t really do this, it instead doles out patent rights to the utility and functionality of a non-patented product