Bonito Boats vs. Thundercraft- Analysis

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Argued Dec. 5, 1988-Feb 21, 1989

Basic summary-

1. Bonito Boats makes fiberglass recreational boats and has a mold design for the Model 5VBR.

2. Sell for 6 years

3. No patent

4. Florida state law enacted prohibits selling products from direct molding process without patent

5. Bonito Boat sues Thundercradton the grounds that Bonito Boats' design was copied breaks this statute and wants damages, injuntive relief, and legal fees.

6. Court rules in favor of the defendant under Supremacy clause

Supremacy Law

a)state is getting in the way of creative public conceptions for free trade and competition


c)Requiring patents stalls significant advances in technology

d)State may not make rules in intellectual creation if Congress has left it free


Petitioner: Tomas Morgan Russel, w/ Granger Cook Jr, John Schoene Respondent: appointed- Charles E. Lipsey, w/ Donald R. Dunner


J. O'Connor



1976 Bonito boats developed hull design for the 5VBR, created hardwood model for a mold to furnish boats for sale in Sept 1976. NO PATENT APPLICATION

May 1983, 5VBR been established for 6 years, Florida legislature passes may no make and ore sell a vessel hull manufactured by direct molding without patent as of JULY 1, 1983

Dec 21 1984, Bonito Boats sues Thundercraft on basis of direct duplication of Bonito Boats 5VBR vessel hull.

Florida Supreme Court ruled that only federal patent can prohibit copying of a public domain item


Patent clause: Congress may not promote monopolies of unlimited time which remove knowledge or prevent it from the public domain.

Patents are to promote innovation and recognition of imitatoin for innovation.

Patents allow limited monopoly for 14 year for novelty of a sufficiently useful and important item.

2 out of 3 grant patent : Secretary of State, Secretary of Department War, and Attorney General

Jefferson viewed as giving patent rights to a public domain item after release is ex post facto. Thus in 2nd Patent law, requires no public knowledge before patent application.

Patent is granted to anyone whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufactire or composition of matter or any new and useful improverment thereof. and new or origional ornamental design which is not dicctated by function alone.

May not be apply for patent if 1. invention is known or used by others in this country or patented in this or another country. 2.if item was on public sale in US mor than 1 year.

if no patent, public domain

Pennock v. Dialogue - hose company applied for patent 7 years after sale to public. Denied Patent. Deemed Public Domanin.

Metallizing Engineering Co. v Kenyon Bearing And Auto parts Co.- inventor has a choice- get a patent or give to the public