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Design Ownership?

Discussion in 'Yacht Designers Discussion' started by JWY, May 27, 2016.

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  1. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    A builder designs a yacht including some innovative ideas, gives it to a naval architect who gets paid to render professional drawings. The builder constructs and sells several of the yachts with the NA getting paid per vessel. Who owns the design?

    Judy
  2. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Hi Judy,

    You are saying the NA is paid per vessel, which indicates he owns at least parts of the design..? But whatever, this should have been agreed on before work begun... I have designed a couple of boats where I didn't do the hulls, so I don't own the complete design. Something which is part of the deal.

    /Lars
  3. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Normally in the situation you describe, the builder would. However, it is dependent on the contract with the naval architect. But in your case they were providing a service for the builder.

    However, if it was the other way around the naval architect would. Let's say the client had gone to him first.

    Still the terms of their agreement can be different and typically should clearly state ownership. If, for instance, the NA's agreement which was signed by the builder, clearly stated he retained ownership to all designs then he would own it.

    I'm assuming you're asking regarding a situation in which the builder is being told to pay up for each boat sold. Did they not have a contract that specifically outlined the terms? If no contract, I am not surprised to see a dispute over ownership.
  4. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    No, it's a situation where the NA is selling, or attempting to sell, the plans the builder paid for.
  5. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Well, it's back to the contract. I often used outside companies to develop software and always the contract was clear they had no ownership and couldn't reuse our ideas. We even had one buy back the rights to some they developed for us. They did $100k of additional work for us to then own the rights to resell.

    I look at this the same way. Builder engages NA to complete the plans for Builder, paid NA for those plans, then owned them. They were done under the auspices of the builder. It's much like inventing things while working for an employer. However, if they had any written agreement I would think it would specify.

    The real area of conflict is if someone comes to them saying I want plans for a boat like that one you did. Then they claim they do them from scratch for the new client. Now you've got a real infringement question.
  6. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Do you mean sell the same plans to somebody else, or selling the rights back to the builder so he does not have to pay further royalties?
  7. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Or was there ever a royalty involved?
  8. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    The exact plans? As in the same name board on the side of the flybridge in the profile drawing? ...Or something very similar? Big difference. Typically a NA would be allowed a good deal of latitude if he were to re-use his concepts from one design to the next. He cannot be expected to "un-know" what he conceived and used on previous designs. Selling the actual plans that (if) someone else paid for is another matter.
  9. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    Update: The NA still has the drawings on his website but is no longer offering them for sale. Thanks for the responses - maybe the NA reads YF.
  10. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Perhaps or perhaps someone else reached him. He may be use to a different situation than this one.