2011 Rule Changes - Fundamental Rule

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

  1. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

    Likes Received:
    55
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I really don't know anything about the Australian builder, however neither Vangaurd nor Laser Performance have ever impressed me very much. He seems to think very highly of the Spencer family. I'm guessing he chose wisely.
     
  2. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I don't think that either Heini Wellmann or Jeff Martin are the villains here. The dispute arose between Global Sailing and LaserPerformance and I can assure you that over the course of the past year Heini Wellmann, a volunteer, has worked tirelessly to try to broker a peace between the two. Both Heini and Jeff are acting based on the best information available to them, from the agreements they are privileged to see, to the best legal advice they could obtain. They have agonized over this decision for at least six months that I know of and did not want to get to this point.

    The bottom line is that Global Sailing and LaserPerformance have not worked to resolve their dispute. If there are parties to be villainized here it is LP and GS for not resolving a dispute between themselves, not the people who have been working for the the class association to find a resolution to this dispute.

    I can agree that the article on Sail-World can make one think the class is making a big mistake with this rule change proposal. On the other hand, the article is not at all enlightening any of us as to what our Laser sailing world will look like if LP and GS do not resolve their dispute AND the rule change fails. I think one has to carefully keep in mind what that means to all of us, from the sailing we love to do all the way to the value of our investments in our boats.
     
  3. 154537

    154537 Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    rather than try to understand the complexities of the dispute, perhaps it would be simpler if Tracy, or whoever is in the know, lay out the most likely outcome and future developments of laser sailing if the vote fails, and if the vote is passed.

    is the "kirby dinghy" a real possibility?
     
  4. Der_Dude

    Der_Dude Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    There is still a lot to be discovered here before we can make an informed vote. I agree with SFLaser, Mr. Kirby has done little to shed light into this mess. What rights exactly are we talking about here that GS claims over LP and why are LP denying these rights? I believe those are two important questions to be answered before we can form an opinion.

    Another important information would be: who holds the rights to the Laser trademark, for the current LP distribution area and for the rest of the world, i.e. who would be able to transfer them to a new builder?

    Just to make this clear: I am in no way questioning Mr. Kirbys rights to the boat design. I would just like to know why LP are apparently denying them.
     
  5. Deimos

    Deimos Member

    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Interesting comments in the article from Mr. Kirby (which does provide a few more facts).

    That ILCA refer to patents and Mr. Kirby's comments regarding patents conflict with ILCA lawyers who refer to patents - and I assume Mr. Kirby knows what rights he owned and sold.

    That LPE were paying royalties for 2 years and suddenly decided to stop. Which reminds one of a recent thread asking/discussing if LPE were in financial difficulties ... and putting 2+2 together and maybe making more than 4.5 one can imaging that when money is tights profits turned to losses they you try and reduce outgoings, increase margins.

    That Global have allowed LPE to continue building boats despite not being paid during the dispute sort of suggests there is a "bad guy" here and also suggests that ILCA's threat about supply of boats is not the case (and I guess it would have been easy, relatively cheap and very quick for Global to take out an injunction to stop production).

    I find it pretty amazing that ILCA has not yet published and additional information - not even put the vote on hold/restarted whilst additional information is collected/published. Maybe they are on holiday or something or maybe just unaware about the "discussions" happening here, SA and probably elsewhere as well.

    Businesses sort these problems out (unless there are issues like "no money, can't pay"). I don't know how experienced in business ILCA officers are. Similarly, how specialist the ILCA lawyers are in the particular field (e.g. if they normally deal with e.g. injury compensation then maybe they are not 100% in the more specialist area).

    What does seem to be the case is that the ILCA have not provided a balanced case, have not provided adequate information and seem to have taken the attitude that "they have decided" and want the membership to rubber stamp their decision (on the basis that "they know best"). And that does not reflect well on how things are run. That they continue to fail to act to correct this makes things worse.

    Ian
     
  6. jimmy

    jimmy New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Kirby sold a product to GS. Now the value of that product is in question. No surprise that Kirby is backing GS. It is not clear to me why ILCA is backing LP. I'm still undecided. It is very likely that the Laser game will change. Perhaps that is a good thing. Lots of speculation, not enough information.
     
  7. Capt Tony

    Capt Tony New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    From the moment i read the class announcment ive been thinking vote NO ~!. Reading Bruce Kirby's message drove me to confirm my No Position. I cant get my mind around why the class leans LPE, seems fair for GS to get my nod. In trying to sort out the class position a frined pointed out that it seems to him what ever rights Kirby sold would only have value if the Class Rules required a “Kirby Agreement”. Does that sum it up and explain why the class wants a yes vote? It is the easiest out? But wont GS fight it in court and we will all be held hostage? I dont care if the name changes, afterall it was once the Weekender, I'll go w Burce and buy my next boat from NZ I'd be delighted with higher quality more durable components, and with reasonable prices. The class owes us more information on the reason they took that position.
     
  8. RockHead

    RockHead New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'm an interested 3rd party, with no dog in this fight. Don't own a Laser, don't sail a Laser, no commercial interest. However I am a class officer of a one design class that has faced a similar sort of problem, so I have some first hand experience with a nearly identical issue. The multiple trademarks rights are an interesting wrinkle though

    There are a couple of key things to keep in perspective here:
    1. Hull copyright is the US lasts 10 years from date of design publication or production, UK is the apparently same. I'm not 100% certain about the rest of the world, but my understanding is most countries are no better, or will abide by the home country. This hull copyright was Bruce Kirby's intellectual property (or Bruce Kirby Inc.). It has expired and most likely unenforceable anywhere in the world. This is what the ILCA says, and I believe they are correct.

    2. This hull copyright is what entitles a designer to demand and receive a royalty payment on boats when built. Once it has expired, the designer has no independently enforceable right to collect a royalty.

    3. The current ILCA fundamental rule essentially has extended the hull copyright/royalty agreement, by requiring that builders abide by the "Kirby agreements". This value is what Kirby sold to GS.

    So, regardless of the reasons, this essentially boils down to a contract dispute. IMHO, the ILCA is rightly trying to get the class association out of the middle of the dispute between LPE and GS, by asking the members to approve a rule change that gives the ILCA more flexibility in appointing builders, and takes the class out of the role of being a pawn in the dispute between LPE and GS.

    GS has no leverage to collect royalties from LPE or anyone else, without the ILCA requiring it, as they purchased rights of no real value without the enforcement of the ILCA requiring builders to abide by the "Kirby agreements". They should have realized that before writing a check to buy those rights, as it makes them FAR less valuable. The ILCA says that it is not a party to any contracts regarding these hull copyrights, so why should it be in the middle?

    The real prize is the "Laser" trademark, not the expired design copyright. A one-design "beam of light" sailboat is whatever the ILCA rules and build book say it is, if it's built by an ILCA approved builder. But you can't sell it as a "Laser" and slap that logo on it, without rights to use the trademarks! It would be nice if the ILCA owned the trademark, then your would really control your destiny.

    Good on 'ya Bruce, for selling expired rights, and contracts based on something that could be nullified by a simple vote. Enjoy your retirement, you certainly deserve it. Caveat emptor, GS! You should have realized that the contracts Bruce was selling had their foundations in the sand of an ILCA rule that could be changed. I'm sure it was all done in good faith, but my impression is that there may have been lack of proper due diligence on GS' part.

    LPE might be a bit out of bounds to stop paying GS, IF their builder's contract subjects them explicitly to the "Kirby agreements" (which sounds not to be the case) or explicitly binds them to the the ILCA Rules, which includes this fundamental rule. I'd suspect builders are contractually bound to abide by the class rules, but have no direct knowledge if that is the case.

    OTOH, if builders are contractually bound to the ILCA rules, and the fundamental rule includes abiding by the Kirby agreements, changing that rule is a bit of an end run by the class to benefit LPE.

    In the end, I'm not entirely sure what to think (or how I would vote, if I were a voting member), but I would assume that the class officers do have the best interests of the members at heart. They may prefer to withhold details to not embarrass a involved party, or cause them to dig their heels in any deeper.

    Quite a conundrum. I hope it can get settled without tearing apart a great class.
     
  9. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

    Likes Received:
    55
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Again, it is basically an IP issue that needs to be worked out among the builders. If the IP is dead, then the class does need to update the fundamental rule. However, the builders' lawyers need to sort it out first. Acting now only puts the class square in the middle of the mess.

    I think the class officials saw the precious Olympic status slipping away and felt it necessary to act now.
     
  10. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18

    Thanks for what reads to me to be a very nice synopsis of the situation as I understand it, including good explanations of some of the details that it sounds like people are questioning.

    The only thing I can add, or, really, reiterate, is that ILCA is not a part of the agreement between GS and LP and, additionally, is not priviliged to the details of that document. So, ILCA has no knowledge of what GS may or may not require of LP.

    Obviously the proposed rule change benefits LP over Global Sailing and certainly gives the appearance that ILCA has "chosen a side." In effect, it has, but I can assure you that it is not out of love for LaserPerformance. As stated above, when push came to shove it was determined, through the best legal advice that ILCA could get, that if the goal was to preserve Laser sailing as we know it then the trademarks trumped all. If we, as sailors, want to continue to sail the same boats we have now, including calling them Lasers with a starburst logo, then the proposed modification of the Fundamental Rule was deemed the best course of action.

    At the end of the day, the truly best path forward would be for Global Sailing and LaserPerformance to resolve their dispute and obviate the need for a rule change. I would hope they are working to do that.
     
  11. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    133
    Trophy Points:
    63

    Thanks Tracy for your thoughtful comment. The reason for my proposal for new leadership is based on the fact that the information on the ILCA website misrepresents the issue(s). Moreover, ILCA members were asked in no uncertain terms to vote in a way that may well be detrimental to the class.

    Whereas I was glad to read that Mr. Wellmann and Mr. Martin have done their best to resolve the conflict between Global Sailing and LaserPerformance Europe, I stand by my opinion, based mostly upon my reading of the interview with Mr. Kirby, that significant issues have been misrepresented. Thus, I question Mr. Wellmann's leadership. Good leadership should be transparent. Here's, what I think, should have been have put forward:

    Look Class, we have a problem and it is potentially a serious problem. [explain the problem]

    [Continue] We, the leaders, have considered several options, and have arrived at what we think is the best compromise under these difficult circumstances [explain the compromise]. However, we also like to get input from the membership at large before proceeding [set a deadline] Etc.


    My criticism is seconded by Deimos/Ian who wrote:

    What does seem to be the case is that the ILCA have not provided a balanced case, have not provided adequate information and seem to have taken the attitude that "they have decided" and want the membership to rubber stamp their decision (on the basis that "they know best"). And that does not reflect well on how things are run. That they continue to fail to act to correct this makes things worse.
     
  12. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18

    I 100% agree that this is an issue that really should be worked out between Global Sailing and LaserPerformance. A solution would completely obviate the need for a rule change.

    I disagree with your determination of the reason for launching this rule change. In fact, if that were the reason, why put the proposal out now - with a critical vote for the 2016 Olympics just around the corner?

    As I stated in a previous post this dispute has been going on for some time. Heini Wellmann and Jeff Martin have worked tirelessly, over the course of the past year, to try to broker a resolution but to no avail. Push is coming to shove, both sides are threatening courses of action which threaten to tear the class apart and its clear that they will soon begin to act. The timing of the proposed rule change is quite simply driven by ILCA's belief that the time for standing by and watching is over and its time to start acting.

    I recognize its written rather concisely, but the justification for the proposed rule change really does contain all of the information - there is nothing sinister on the part of ILCA being hidden.
     
  13. 154537

    154537 Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    none of us have any real reason or evidence to dispute this, the class is acting in the best interests of the sailors, they have no reason not to! feeling better about my yes vote.

    i'm assuming this is was a very high priced, uber experienced attorney that recommended this?
     
  14. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I freely admit that, as a World Council member, I have been aware of this dispute for some time (though not directly involved). As such, when I read the concise justification for the proposed rule change, I think it contains all of the information that we, without the benefit of access to the "Kirby Agreements" (which the class does not have access to), can have. But I agree that it makes sense to me probably like when when I would read my physics assignment for the 22nd time...

    I know that ILCA is hoping to put together a Q&A page to help answer questions people are asking. I'm hoping they can have something available by next week.
     
  15. LooserLu

    LooserLu LooserLu

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Today, I have been at my club. At GER, my club, as a so called "legal person", is "official and paying fees" member of our GER district (known to the ILCA as "DLAS"). As a sort of Laser Fleet Captain of my club (5 Laser Std.'s and 2 Laser Radials), I was asked by the head of the board of my club: "Is the club, as member of the DLAS, permittted to vote?"

    What is the answer of the ILCA ?

    I do questioning this here, because it is not unimportant and I don't want to disturb the intensive work of Jeff&Co by writing to the ILCA Office directly and also: perhaps other clubs probably have the same question. So, a serious answer of ILCA, f.e.: at the proposed next week comming "Q&A website" to this voting, would reduce a lot of emails to the "ILCA office" / district office'es. Thanks.

    Have Fun

    LooserLu
    DLAS member (Member No.1805)
    Laser GER 174096
     
  16. LooserLu

    LooserLu LooserLu

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Hi again,
    this evening at our district-website a message of the ILCA was made public to the members at my country:

    http://www.laserklasse.de/pages/posts/dlas-office-482.php

    From all the disussion here at this TLF-thread before, as a reponsible-minded voter, I don't vote as long I havn't got also the "opposing point of view" of all parties (Garvel Securities aka LaserPerformance Europe LTD / Global Sailing aka Performance Saicraft Australia) that belong of the vote. I have time to vote till 2011 September 23th. I havn't chosen my vote yet, nor anybody can push me to vote ASAP. There is plenty of time to vote "Yes" or "No".

    LooserLu
    GER
     
  17. 18109

    18109 New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    [FONT=&quot]Laser Class Major Rule Change - A Disaster Says Bruce Kirby[/FONT]
    This week, the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) has asked its membership to mmediately vote YES on a fundamental rule change, probably the most important one in the history of the class. It would have a major change on the class structure.
    In a document distributed to ILCA members worldwide the Laser Class Association amongst the arguments for voting Yes said - ' a builder also needs a building agreement from Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby Inc. This provision is mostly historical. The rule was instituted at a time when Bruce Kirby held certain design rights. The ILCA is not a party to any of these 'Kirby' agreements.
    'We also took legal advice. We understand this is the only possible solution in order to promote the uninterrupted supply of class legal Laser boats and to maintain ILCA in its current set-up. The lawyers also informed us that the Kirby design patents had in fact expired.
    'Therefore, we are proposing to change the rule to eliminate the 'building agreement from Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby Inc' requirement."
    Sail-World.com decided to talk to Bruce Kirby. 'Two and a half years ago, I sold my rights to the New Zealanders, the Spencer families' Global Sailing. I am 82 as you know, and this move was what you would call estate planning.
    'The Spencers have been building Lasers through Performance Sailcraft Australasia for umpteen years. I simply figured the Spencers had the good of the class in mind - far more so than anyone else that was on the horizon - and that they would do the best job in looking after the class and promoting it and enhancing it.
    'Now it would appear that Laser Performance Europe doesn't want to recognize the fact that this transfer has taken place. It is really weird because they paid the royalties to Global Sailing for two years as they were supposed to do, and then all of a sudden they stopped doing that. That action has caused issues between LPE and Global Sailing and they will have to sort it out.'
    What was his response to the ILCA statement 'Lawyers also informed us that the Kirby design patent has in fact expired.'
    Kirby responded. 'That's total bull s--t! There never were any patents. You can't patent a sail boat design. These were contracts, legitimate contracts drawn up by lawyers and there is no suggestion that I had a patent on the boat. These were long term contracts that were renewable every so many years. No-one's ever questioned them so I don't know what lawyer they found that suggested this course of action. It's crazy!' *
    Sail-World.com is continuing to interview the key players and will have more in the coming days. -- Rob Kothe and the Sail-World.com Team
    Full article: www.sail-world.com
     
  18. RockHead

    RockHead New Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Tracy, thank you for your comment, I appreciate it. Especially after being threatened with a libel lawsuit this morning by Wesley W. Whitmyer, Jr. of St. Onge Steward Johnson & Reens, LLC, attorney for Bruce Kirby, Inc. and Bruce Kirby for 2 personal opinions expressed in that post.

    Anyone know how I edit a 4 day old post? I can't be bothered to put up with the hassle, though I despise the tactic. The board won't give me edit access to my post, though I am logged in.

    I will also add that I am not a part of the agreement between GS and LP and, additionally, am not privileged to the details of that document. So, I have no knowledge of what GS may or may not require of LP.
     
  19. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

    Likes Received:
    55
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Note to builders - if you insist on destroying the class, you won't have any market left.
     
  20. Braecrest

    Braecrest Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    +1!
     

Share This Page