1/21/11 : Bonito Boats notes
-Bonito Boats: No patent filed for the utilitarian or design aspects of the hull or manufacturing process (sprayed-fiberglass mold) by which the finished boats were produced (1976)
-After 6 years of production, a Florida statute prohibited the use of a direct molding process to duplicate unpatented boat hulls, and the sale of them.
-Bonito Boats filed action against Thunder Craft for violation of the Florida statute.
-Conclusion: dismissed by Florida Court of Appeals and the Florida Supreme Court due to confliction with federal patent law via the Supremacy Clause; federal patent law rules higher than state law.
Notes and Facts of the case
-No indication on record that a patent application was ever filed for protection of the utilitarian or design aspects of the hull, or the manufacturing process for the Bonito 5VBR (1976)
-Fla.Stat.(section)559.94(1987) statute makes it "unlawful for any person to use the direct molding process to duplicate for the purpose of sale any manufactured vessel hull or component part of a vessel made by another without the written permission of that person... [or] to knowingly sell a vessel hull or component part of a vessel duplicated in violation of subsection (2)." Applicable after July 1, 1983.
-Bonito Boats filed against Thunder Craft, a Tennessee Corporation, for violation of the Florida statute on December 21, 1984. Had Thunder Craft been in Florida, would this have ruled differently?
-A divided Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of petitioner's complaint because the statute conflicted with federal patent law, and therefore was invalid.
-A sharply divided Florida Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's dismissive conclusion
-Does this ruling essentially nullify the Florida statute for the direct-mold manufacturing and sale of unpatented boat hulls?
-How can state legislature protect design ideas that patent laws leave unprotected?