Bonito Boats v. Thunder Craft (1989)

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Bonito Boats designed and manufactured a fiberglass boat hull, the Bonito Boat Model 5VBR, but did not issue a patent for the boat or its manufacturing process. After the hull had been on the market for 6 years, the Florida Legislature passed a law prohibiting the use of direct molding to duplicate and knowingly sell unpatented boat hulls. Bonito Boats then sued Thunder Craft in a Florida Circuit Court under the charge that they violated the FL law by selling Bonito 5VBR direct molding duplicates.

Court Ruling:

The Florida Circuit Court ruled that the complaint be dismissed on the grounds that the Florida statute conflicted with Federal patent law, and was therefore unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause. The Florida Court of Appeals and the Florida Supreme Court affirmed this ruling.