[Federal Register: July 8, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 130)]

[Proposed Rules]               

[Page 36829-36830]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





Copyright Office

37 CFR Part 212

[Docket No. RM 99-4A]


Design Protection for Vessel Hulls

AGENCY: Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: Section 1313(c) of title 17 permits a party damaged by the 

registration of a vessel hull design to request cancellation of the 

design. The Copyright Office is requesting interested parties to 

comment on the process and procedures that should be adopted for the 

cancellation of registrations of vessel hull designs.

DATES: Comments should be submitted no later than August 6, 1999. Reply 

comments are due no later than September 7, 1999.

ADDRESSES: An original and 10 copies of comments and reply comments 

should be mailed to: Office of the General Counsel, Copyright Office, 

P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, D.C. 20024. If delivered 

by hand, an original and 10 copies should be brought to: Office of the 

Copyright General Counsel, Room LM-403, James Madison Memorial 

Building, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20559-6000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David O. Carson, General Counsel, or 

William J. Roberts, Senior Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, 

Copyright Office, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, D.C. 

20024. Telephone: (202) 707-8380. Telefax: (202) 707-8366.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: As part of the amendments made to the 

Copyright Act by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Public Law 105-

304, Congress enacted design protection for vessel hulls. Chapter 13 of 

the Copyright Act creates certain exclusive rights for owners of 

original designs of vessel hulls provided registration of the design

[[Page 36830]]

is made within two years after the date on which the design is first 

made public. Registration of designs is made at the Copyright Office.

    The Copyright Office has adopted interim regulations, effective 

July 1, 1999, implementing the registration system for vessel hull 

designs. The interim regulations did not, however, address procedures 

for cancelling registrations upon petition of an interested party. This 

Notice of Inquiry seeks public comment as to what type of process and 

procedures the Copyright Office should adopt for the cancellation of 

registrations. Persons submitting comments are invited to combine those 

comments with the comments they submit relating to the interim 

regulations, which are due on the same date.

    Section 1313(c) of title 17 provides that ``[a]ny person who 

believes he or she is or will be damaged by a registration under this 

chapter may, upon payment of the prescribed fee, apply to the 

[Register] at any time to cancel the registration on the ground that 

the design is not subject to protection under this chapter.'' 17 U.S.C. 

1313(c). Upon receipt of such application, the Register must provide 

the owner of the design with the request for cancellation and ``the 

owner shall have a period of 3 months after the date on which such 

notice is mailed to present arguments to the [Register] to support the 

validity of the registration.'' Id. The Register is granted authority 

to establish regulations by which the opposing parties may ``appear and 

be heard in support of their arguments,'' and is directed to cancel the 

registration if she determines that ``the design is not subject to 

protection under this chapter.'' Id.

    Because the Copyright Office has just published interim regulations 

creating the registration process for vessel hull designs and has yet 

to make a registration, it was not necessary to immediately adopt 

cancellation regulations. The Office is now seeking comment on the 

appropriate structure and procedures for cancelling registrations. In 

considering a process, commenters should bear in mind that the fees for 

cancellation proceedings will be set at a level designed to recover the 

actual cost of the proceedings.

    The Office specifically seeks comment to the following inquiries. 

First is the issue of who should conduct a cancellation proceeding. 

Should the proceeding be conducted by staff of the Copyright Office, 

and, if so, should it be conducted by staff of the Examining Division 

or by attorneys in the General Counsel's Office? Or, should the Office 

hire an administrative law judge (``ALJ'') (preferably one with 

knowledge of vessel designs) to conduct the hearings and make findings 

of fact? If an ALJ is the preferable choice, how should the ALJ be 

paid? Should the ALJ's findings be given presumptive validity, or 

should the Register be empowered to make her own findings?

    Second, how extensive should the proceeding be to consider the 

petition? The statute prescribes that the owner must be given 3 months 

to respond to the petition. Should additional written arguments be 

permitted in addition to the initial petition and the owner's response? 

What type of submissions should be permitted, and what should the time 

be? Should the parties be confined to presenting their arguments in 

written format, or should oral hearing be allowed as well? How 

extensive should such hearings be? Should they be conducted in 

accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act requirements for 

formal hearings, or according to some other less formal format?

    Third, what should be the fee charged by the Copyright Office for 

such a proceeding? Because the registration fee is relatively modest, 

and because the fee for cancellation proceedings is likely to be 

considerably greater, should the obligation to pay for cancellation 

proceedings be shared by the party seeking cancellation and the party 

who obtained the registration? Should the fee be fixed, or should it be 

assessed in whole or in part based on the amount of time the presiding 

officer actually expends in reviewing the submissions and conducting 

the proceeding? Does the Office have authority to assess fees in that 


    The Office welcomes responses to these inquiries, as well as any 

other information or comment as to the cancellation process.

    Dated: July 1, 1999.

David O. Carson,

General Counsel.

[FR Doc. 99-17364 Filed 7-7-99; 8:45 am]