2011 Rule Changes - Fundamental Rule

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by 154537, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Re: rule change, builder

    Further reference material: The list of the members of the World Council, Advisory Council and contacts for each of the regions is listed on the ILCA website. There is contact information listed there for each.
     
  2. sailchris

    sailchris Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Re: rule change, builder

    Yes, patents expire. US design patents expire 14 years from their issue date, so both of the Kirby patents listed above are expired (although neither relates to the Laser itself).

    Copyrights have a defined term. The exact term can be complicated to calculate, but it is probably at least 70 years after Kirby's death.

    Trademarks do not expire and remain enforceable so long as they are maintained and don't become generic, e.g., The Bass Red Triangle in comparison to Aspirin, Escalator, Cellophane, etc.
     
  3. Capt Tony

    Capt Tony New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    On the surface following the class letter it may seem simple, but I wonder if it is REALLY a no brainer.
    If we vote is YES what stops the legal Patent Holder from suing the builder making boats without an agreement? Seems to me a continuted leagal dispute following a vote would hold the whole issue up while we pay fees of lawyers through dues and ever increasing costs racing equipment? Bought a new sail lately?

    3 FACTS I believe true: ILCA Class Rules, requires 3 core criteria builders must meet to make class-legal vessels:
    1. manufacture the hull, equipment, fittings, spars, sails and battens in strict adherence to the Construction Manual (owned by the class)
    2. have the Laser trademark rights, (evidently these have been sold to builders over time by someone, Kirby?)
    3. Have a building agreement from Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby Inc. (Bruce sold to Global Sailing so as a result they are Bruce Kirby)

    Questions, can anyone shed light.
    1. If GS owns the Kirby Patent (expired or not) can they issue building agreements?
    2. If so why not to LPE? Assume i can figue, but maybe someone knows
    3. More importantly why does LPE, a company making boats now NOT have an agreement? No agreement means the MANY who have bought and sail LPE boats are they not legal.
    4. The Class owns the construction manual, why has the class sided with LPE, or at least against GS, especially since LPE are building without one of the 3 important criteria above?
    5. Is it not fair for the owner of the patent rights to issue agreements?
    6. as Diamon says in a post, If he is correct and LPE came from LP who merged w Vanguard, and if Vanguard held a buiders agreement why does it not carry over?
    Lastly this is likely all about GS gaining greater market access: "Proper Course" reported an ad in SA by Global Sailing "looking for enthusiastic and well established marine dealers to become national or multi national distributors in the European region for the Bruce Kirby designed Olympic Sailing Dinghy."
    Love to get a deeper understanding before people are called to a vote following a ‘fear’ letter.
     
  4. Capt Tony

    Capt Tony New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    On the surface following the class letter it may seem simple, but I wonder if it is REALLY a no brainer.
    If we vote is YES what stops the legal Patent Holder from suing the builder making boats without an agreement? Seems to me a continued legal dispute following a vote would hold the whole issue up while we pay fees of lawyers through dues and ever increasing costs racing equipment? Bought a new sail lately?

    3 FACTS I believe true: ILCA Class Rules, requires 3 core criteria builders must meet to make class-legal vessels:
    1. manufacture the hull, equipment, fittings, spars, sails and battens in strict adherence to the Construction Manual (owned by the class)
    2. have the Laser trademark rights, (evidently these have been sold to builders over time by someone, Kirby?)
    3. Have a building agreement from Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby Inc. (Bruce sold to Global Sailing so as a result they are Bruce Kirby)

    Questions, can anyone shed light.
    1. If GS owns the Kirby Patent (expired or not) can they issue building agreements?
    2. If so why not to LPE? Assume i can figure, but maybe someone knows
    3. More importantly why does LPE, a company making boats now NOT have an agreement? No agreement means the MANY who have bought and sail LPE boats are not legal.
    4. The Class owns the construction manual, why has the class sided with LPE, or at least against GS, especially since LPE are building without one of the 3 important criteria above?
    5. Is it not fair for the owner of the patent rights to issue agreements?
    6. As Diamon says in a post, If he is correct and LPE came from LP who merged w Vanguard, and if Vanguard held a builders agreement why does it not carry over?
    Lastly this is likely all about GS gaining greater market access and pushing out LPE an any other potential builder: "Proper Course" reported an ad in SA by Global Sailing "looking for enthusiastic and well established marine dealers to become national or multi national distributors in the European region for the Bruce Kirby designed Olympic Sailing Dinghy."
    Love to get a deeper understanding before people are called to a vote following a ‘fear’ letter.
     
  5. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    38
    After a night of thinking about this and re-reading what I understand I think some or all of the following may be true.
    If I knew for certain I would write the following>>>

    The Designer rights now belong to something called Global.
    The logo and name rights belong to all sorts of folks on a regional basis.
    The current ILCA rules state, "lasers aren't Lasers unless they are built by folks who pay ALL the fees to ALL the owners of ALL the various intellectual property."

    One of the major builders of lasers would like to blow off the required intellectual property payments to the design rights holder.
    In other words, the major builder, who owns the rights to use the name Laser but not the rights to build the design wishes to build knock off boats and call them Lasers.
    That builder is threatening to quit building things called Lasers if the class refuses to allow use of boats for competition when the design fees for those boats have not been paid.

    ++++
    What do I think??
    The major builder wants to have it both ways. The builder wants to control the use of the Laser logo and name with respect to the boat but they do not wish to pay for the rights to produce the actual product.
    They seem to like intellectual property rights whjen those rights are theirs, but they want to ignore the intellectual laws when proper business behavior costs money.
    My interpretation of the question upon which we are being asked to vote tells me we are being asked to work in collusion with intellectual property thieves..
    If I am correct in my assesment of the situation, I think the correct response it "Stuff it!!!"
    If the name and logo copyrights holder persists in its refusal to properly pay for design rights, we should work together with the design rights holder and the legal system to shut them down.
    If we find it necessary to change the name of the toy, so be it.

    +++++++
    Remember, I really do not have sufficient information to form an opinion. The above is what I would write if what I currently understand to be the case actually is the case.
    In the meantime...Come sail in the big regatta!!!
     
  6. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Great questions Tony. But I think there are some inaccuracies in your post. They don't fundamentally change the issues but I would like to try and clear them up, and ask a few questions of my own...

    1. Patents. I don't think patents are involved. If there ever were any patents on the Laser they have expired by now as both sailchris and the original statement from the International Class have said.

    2. But it seems that Bruce Kirby Inc. owns some design rights to the boat. Sailchris listed several copyrights assigned to or owned by Bruce Kirby Inc. Do these copyrights give Bruce Kirby Inc. the rights to royalties from every Laser sold? Do they give Bruce Kirby Inc. the right to decide who can build boats to those designs? Are these the rights that are at the heart of this dispute? And do these rights just become irrelevant because ILCA changes a class rule, or will the owner of these rights seek to enforce them using every means at their disposal?

    3. Laser Construction Manual. Tracy says the class owns the construction manual (post #38 in this thread.) Sailchris says that the records at the US copyright office show that copyright in the Laser Construction Manual is owned by Bruce Kirby Inc. Are these two statements in conflict? And, in any case, what does it really mean to "own" the construction manual or the copyright to it? Does that give you the right to decide who can build boats using the designs and processes in the construction manual?

    4. Minor point. The ad from Global Sailing looking for distributors in Europe was on the Scuttlebutt Europe newsletter. (It might have been on SA as well for all I know but that's not what I reported on my blog.)

    As a wise man once said, "Remember, I really do not have sufficient information to form an opinion. The above is what I would write if what I currently understand to be the case actually is the case."
     
  7. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Re: rule change, builder


    acutually...Tracy is way ahead of me too. he spends way more time and personal wealth working for the game than I either wish to or could.

    but while this s&#+fight continues...

    How about if lots and lots of you load up your boats and head on down to Austin for the Easter regatta??!!!
     
  8. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

    Likes Received:
    55
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Quite frankly, it seems quite simple from an IP point of view.

    Prior to this mess, it was universally recognized that Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby Inc. owned the rights to the Laser design. This was recognized by all builders and the international class, and the required licensing fees and royalties were paid.

    So now that the IP rights have been sold, suddenly they hold no meaning? I don't think so.
     
  9. Deimos

    Deimos Member

    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    18
    You may be right but there may be other considerations - but again we would need more information about the dispute.

    Does a "design rights holder" agreement last forever (i.e. once you get it you never need to renew it) or is it a short term thing requiring regular payments. If the latter, it might be that Global is asking totally ludicrous amounts of money to re-issue the agreement (e.g. more that the cost of a boat per boat) - with the intent to stop LPE building so they can enter the region. It may be that it is just a business squabble and the intervention of ILCA has just made it unnecessary for LPE and Global to sort things out. Might be that LPE no longer wants to pay for the IP and keep more profit for itself. Without details how can we know and how can we thus make a sensible decision.

    Ian
     
  10. Capt Tony

    Capt Tony New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Thank you Grouvernail and Tillerman, you have shed light! My first reaction after reading the letter to the class yesterday was why side with a builder who does not have, or is not willing to pay in the future, for rights. What makes the class request a YES vote? Why side with the builder who does not have all the building criteria over GS who does? Seems the Desgn rights holder has a point and untill or unless we get more clear information, i'd lean NO.
     
  11. Deimos

    Deimos Member

    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    18
    With the limited information published I would agree. And thus, were this rule change to go through, does anybody thing that Global will just shrug their shoulders and walk quietly away (now making no money from something they paid Bruce Kirby for) ? I suspect that if the rule change were to go through it would be the start of a big legal fight - except now the ILCA would be tangled-up in it all and thus need expensive lawyers and even then become liable for any awarded compensation/costs to Global (I don't know but may be the case, I'm not a lawyer).

    Also under the ILCA, who is liable for the Associations debts ? - the membership ? So were a court to find against ILCA and award damages and costs, who would pay (i.e. would the membership be legally liable or would the Association just go bust; in which case what happens to the Construction Manual).

    Seems to me that it would be wise for the ILCA to cancel the vote, publish more complete information and background papers, then re-initiate the vote in order to allow people who voted taking the info at face value to re-consider in the light of more complete information.

    I'm neither in favour or against (yet) - not enough information published to form an opinion. In fact, given that the Association appears to have a preference already, I would suggest they agree to publish (or provide a link) to something where Global and LPE can state their side of the story.

    Ian
     
  12. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Pretty much everything here is speculation. IP rights can be traded and traded under conditions so knowing who holds them or held them originally tells us nothing. As pointed out, they need not be registered. They could be rights to the design of the little eye where you tie the painter to (if you use one) for all we know.

    Maybe this should be the time to stand up as a class and vote for conserving our sport and fending off our own exploitation by ILCA sanctioned builders? If we found out just what these design rights are, maybe there could be such a thing as a royalty free OD boat? Or we could make an offer as a class and buy the right ourselves. How powerful is the ILCA?

    I believe the folkboat class bought the design rights to their boat long ago and they seem be very happy with it.
     
  13. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    An offer was made, unfortunately rejected. The bottom line is that the price is much higher than ILCA can afford.
     
  14. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

    Likes Received:
    55
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Something which I hope everyone appreciates.

    It is the existence of this IP, and its judicious protection, that has allowed the Laser class to exist as a strict one-design class for the last 40 years. As sailors, we pay a premium in terms of a royalty or license fee to the owner of the IP. In exchange, we get a tightly-controlled class which would not be possible with the multiple-builder model employed in other classes.

    Does it create a "monopoly"? To a degree, yes. But it avoids the hardware wars often seen in those multiple-builder classes. The owner of the IP must ensure that the monopoly does not result in explotation through unreasonable prices. Otherwise the market will dry up, and the IP will be worthless.

    To me, having the IP owned directly by a builder circumvents this check-and-balance. Conversely, having it owned by the class association could easily lead to multiple-builder hardware wars.
     
  15. Deimos

    Deimos Member

    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    18
    This would then suggest that what Global hold represents a significant value, which would suggest that it is something the ILCA cannot just "vote away" and even if they did, something that valuable would probably be defended by Global and hence the likelihood of subsequent legal battles.

    Interestingly it sounds from what you say that this is not an attempt to kill off LPE so Global can take-over the territory but that Global think what they hold is worth more than LPE think - so it is coming down to difference of opinion about the value of something, both sides trying to get the best deal. Something that happens all the time in business and is resolved. So how come LPE and Global cannot resolve the situation ? Mature experienced businesses manage to negotiate and find solutions of mutual benefit. Maybe LPE and Global should behave like mature business people. Of course there might be other considerations (hence the ongoing calls more more background info from everybody).

    Ian
     
  16. Cefalu

    Cefalu New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Tracy, I agree my post offering how the IODA regulates its one design rules was somewhat off topic to this thread. I posted it becasue I thought the rule change being discussed here was intended to give ILCA more autonomy from the builders, which I think will be beneficial for the class. But at this point, the consequence of this vote does not seem clear how the classes relationship with the builders will change.

    I had a friend who worked for Vanguard and he explained that Vanguard was nearly always opposed to changing laser class rules that could result in lowering vanguards profits. And that unless you had concensus from the builders it was not possible to implement a construction rule change. In my opinion, this is a bad setup. It's good to have builder involvement and feedback, but not absolute control of the class.

    Thus, I was hopeful that this rule change was going to result in the laser class having greater control over the Lasers design and construction, whereby we class members could implement some positive changes like allowing blades and spars to be better constructed so they are not throw away parts.

    Regarding my broken top section? It was my 115 lb daughter who broke the top section in a radial on a windward beat. No high speed deathroll, or muddy capsize, like you might expect from me! And on both of my boats the centerboards have gotten cracks radiating from the trailing edge, which then turn into chunks falling out. And my rudder had the tip snap off. And on nearly all the centerboards you see rust that forms where the wire reinforcing meets the surface. The wire starts to corrode and then bulges out.

    Here are the latest retail prices for a class legal blade set=$780, upper section=$207, new Hyde full rig rolled=$645. So here in SF when you break a top section you are looking at nearly $1,000 to get a new sail and top section. Add in some blades and you are pushing nearly $2,000 w/tax. The same package of parts from Intensity is $565 w/o tax. My point here is, we should be getting better quality gear for the money we are spending. But really I would like to see these design weaknesses corrected. And as I understand it, the bulders have consistently blocked improving the quality of these parts.

    If it is possible for this vote to result in the class having increased control over the construction of lasers I am for it. But it's looking more like a builders turf war instead.
     
  17. Cefalu

    Cefalu New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It is a misconception to believe that retaining a sole source builder agreement is the only way to achieve a one design class that does not result in "hardware wars." I use the opti IOD 95 rule as an example. It really works. Hulls, spars and blades are virtually identical in construction and performance for all boats and they are sourced from many different suppliers all over the world. There might be an "arms race" in some parents minds, but it's a marketing and branding issue, not a performance issue.

    Do a google search on laser top section and see how many people have actually mic'd their spars, then look at the range of thicknesses. It is not very tightly controlled. It's a difficult argument to praise the virtues of builder control when you see these kinds of variances. I saw threads saying european mast sections measured thicker etc.
     
  18. 154537

    154537 Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    cefalu has good points... but when i coached optis, the gucci gear, albeit great quality was far more expensive than the standard spars, and for example a stiff expensive black gold boom is way faster in breeze than a cheap club boom. but the bottom line is that the laser stuff could be of better quality for the type of money we're paying.

    perhaps i should re-think my vote, but i really dont have the bandwidth for the research and study of a very complicated issue to be fully informed. to be honest, id rather just go sailing and not worry about trademark and patents and rights, etc. i do that all day at work
     
  19. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Article on Sail World

    Bruce Kirby speaks out on this issue. Says the proposed ILCA rule change would be a "disaster for the Class".
     
  20. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    133
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Based on the interview with Bruce Kirby, it looks to me that Heini Wellmann should resign ASAP for conduct detrimental to the Class. I would like to know what Jeff Martin's role in this 'saga' is, before expressing an opinion about his role.
     

Share This Page