Keep Your Damn Hands off My “Trade” Dress

Spectator - May 2002

Spectator — May 2002

By Tom Fexas

Keep Your Damn Hands off My “Trade” Dress
Don't mess with your Spectator.
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• Part 1: Trade Dress
• Part 2: Trade Dress
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First, I must state that of all of the boat shows I have attended over the past 30 years, I have never once worn a dress to any of them. Actually, the dress I'm speaking of is "trade dress," a term describing nonfunctional components that combine to produce a certain appearance of an object.

Back in 1985 my firm produced a trend-setting design for an 83/92-foot motoryacht to be built by Cheoy Lee in Hong Kong. Back then, companies like Lazzara were producing wholesome, upright, steadfast, trawler-type motoryachts. Westport was not yet building yachts, Hatterases (Hatteri?) were highly angular, Browards were upright, hard-edged affairs, and Italian motoryachts appeared to be origami vessels (hard corners and angles all over). In those days nothing resembled the sleek, rounded contours of the Cheoy Lee motoryachts, and I contend that from the day that design was introduced in 1987, scores of builders have lifted its look and adopted it as their own. My attorneys have informed me that this constitutes false representation, trade dress infringement, trade dress dilution, cross trade dressing, unfair competition, and most outrageous of all, copycat design (also known in legal speak as "follow the leader design" and "ring around the rosy design"). To those of you copycats out there I say: Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah! Your time has come. I freely admit that I am taking this action in an effort to eliminate competition, and when I am finished, my attorneys inform me, I will have the entire motoryacht design business locked up.

Splendiferous Beauty
My trade dress is a combination of elements and components that have never, in the recorded history of yacht design, been combined to produce the unique look that has been copied so blatantly. The distinctive appearance incorporates panache, poshness, sophistication, and magnificent, splendiferous beauty and is made up of the following elements: (1) a sheerline that is formed where the sides of the hull and the deck meet; (2) the appearance in plan view of a point where the two sides of the boat merge at the bow (front); (3) a squared-off transom; (4) freeboard at the bow that is higher than that at the stern; (5) overall lengths from stern to the forward end of aft cockpit, aft deck, main cabin, raised pilothouse, front cabin, foredeck, and anchor pulpit in proportions of approximately 2, 2 3/8, 7, 5, 4 1/2, 6 3/4, and 1/8 respectively compared to hull length; (6) a forward cabin higher than the main deck; (7) a pilothouse higher than the forward cabin; (8) a long middle cabin which ends rather abruptly with an angled or curved-aft configuration; (9) an aft deck behind the main cabin; (10) a cockpit behind the aft deck; (11) side windows in the pilothouse with a forward edge approximately aligned with the windshield, a lower edge parallel to the horizon, and the upper edge parallel to the cabin top; (12) a pilothouse that incorporates a brow or overhang over the windshield; (13) blacked-out windows created by black paint or dark glass

Next page > Trade Dress, Part 2 > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.