2011 Rule Changes - Fundamental Rule

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

  1. oldfart

    oldfart Member

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    I've just spent the last couple hours reading through all this instead of playing with my "Weekender/Laser/Kirby". What seems to be the root cause of this issue is that LPE doesn't want to pay royalty rights in order to enhance its financial position. The other intriguing question is whether or not GS has anything of value it purchased from Bruce Kirby. I can understand why ILCA is concerned, and rightly so, about this dispute. However, how can ILCA guarantee no liabiliity exposure in a potential lawsuit from either of the two parties no matter what the outcome of the proposed rule change? Did the attorney that was hired answer that question? Not sure how real the threat is that the class is destroyed if no agreement is reached. Couldn't GS replace LPE as the supplier in most of the world, leaving LPE high and dry, or trying to market a "substitute" boat? Should we not know the financial well-being of the builders(and their ownership group) before choosing sides -- YES for LPE, NO for GS?

    Is losing Olympic class status -- probably better in the long run, anyway -- really part of this issue, or just a threat to get YES votes?

    I agree with most of the comments that we should have a lot more information before casting a vote. I'll look forward to the Q&A commentary from ILCA.
     
  2. sorosz

    sorosz Member

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    For the ILCA Q & A, I would be interested in knowing what happens to the vote if the dispute between GS & LPE is resolved prior to the end of the voting period.

    Will the vote be withdrawn as if it never happened? Or will the results yes or no, be binding regardless? If the vote is withdrawn will that affect the other items to be voted on?
     
  3. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    No matter how I read and re read the explanation from ILCA I still come to the same conclusion...

    We are being asked to change the ILCA builder's requirement from:

    Builders must have an agreement with the owner of the design


    to

    Builders must build boats called Lasers with starburst insignias

    I don't believe such a rule change helps our game.


    The real issue is not whether somebody owns a trademark. the issue is One design toys:
    "The buiilder must agree to build according to our specifications!!"

    If Kirby's design rights have expired, it is time to w rite a new set of official 14 foot long sailboat specifications for our game and get opur own set of design rights.


    Leaving the construction and design control open to anyone who happens to own a copyright for a starburst and a name does not serve our game.
     
  4. mental floss

    mental floss Member

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    Doesn't sound like an altruistic bunch of folk, does it?
     
  5. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I find the thought process that leads the above conclusions intriguing, perhaps you can elucidate further as to how you arrive at this?

    From my perspective, as I read the proposed rule change, I think there are two relevant sections - the Fundamental Rule and the Definition of a Builder.

    As we know, the relevant (to this discussion) piece of the Fundamental Rule states (see http://www.laserinternational.org/rules/classrules/partone):

    The Laser shall be raced in accordance with these rules, with only the hull, equipment, fittings, spars, sail and battens manufactured by a licensed builder in accordance with the Laser design specification (known as the Construction Manual) which is registered with ISAF.

    currently three requirements in the definition of a builder :

    1. has a building agreement from Bruce Kirby or Bruce Kirby Inc.
    2. has rights to use a Laser trademark
    3. has been approved as a Laser Builder by each of the International Sailing Federation and the International Laser Class Association.

    The proposal modifies the Fundamental Rule to read:

    The Laser shall be raced in accordance with these Rules, with only the hull, equipment, fittings, spars, sail and battens manufactured by an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and International Laser Class Association (ILCA) approved builder in accordance with strict adherence to the Laser design specification (known as the Construction Manual) which is registered with ISAF.

    The definition of a builder changes to:

    1. has the rights to use a Laser trademark,
    2. is manufacturing the hull, equipment, fittings, spars, sails and battens in strict adherence to the Construction Manual,
    3. has been approved as a Laser Builder by each of the International Sailing Federation and the International Laser Class Association.

    The Laser Construction Manual defines the boat. The trademark allows us to call it a Laser and put a Starburst symbol on the sail. The builders will still be required to build the boat according to the construction manual if they want that boat to be a "legal" Laser (in the context of racing).

    I don't follow how you reach your conclusion?
     
  6. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Ignorance??

    I thought Kirby and now Global had control of the construction manual.

    I will have to rethink my position.

    meanwhile...

    The construction manual has always been a curious creature anyway.


    I am reasonably certain when builders controlled the construction manual, it must have been modified by builders to keep it possible to manufacture lasers.

    If the class and the ISAF now control the manual...where in our class rules is the desription of the official "manual modification process?"

    Specifically. Can the class now make Manual modifications and enforce them??
     
  7. Dr._Loser

    Dr._Loser From 3# World

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    I can not understand this GREAT PROBLEM........
    Cheers
     
  8. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    :confused: You are not the only one... :confused:

     
  9. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    It's very simple...

    1. Company A bought something. None of us here know exactly what.

    2. Company B had an agreement with Company A. None of us here know what is in that agreement. None of us really know whether that agreement is still in effect.

    3. Company A and Company B are now in some kind of dispute. None of us here know exactly what that dispute is about.

    4. Company B makes Lasers.

    5. The ILCA has a rule that Company B can't make Lasers unless they have an agreement with Company A.

    6. So if Company B doesn't have an agreement with Company A any more (which none of us here actually know) then the boats that Company B makes that look like Lasers and sail like Lasers wouldn't really be Lasers.

    7. The ILCA would like us to vote to get rid of the rule that says Company B can't make Lasers unless they have an agreement with Company A, so that even if they don't have such an agreement with Company A then the boats that they make will really be Lasers.

    8. Nobody here has yet heard anything about this from Company A or Company B. Nobody here knows what was in the agreement between these two companies. Nobody here knows the full nature of their dispute. Nobody here know whether Company A is in the right or Company B is in the right. Nobody here knows how their dispute will eventually be settled. Nobody here knows what Company A and Company B will do if this rule change is passed. Nobody here knows what Company A and Company B will do if this rule change is not passed.

    Does anybody here think they know enough to vote on this yet?
     
  10. GBR 134

    GBR 134 Member

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    As ever T-man is so right. He could also have added - no one here as any idea if Company A or Company B is financially strapped - which also often makes a difference!

    As it happens I have voted - in haste, without much thought and I now regret it. There is obviously no reason to vote yet, so every incentive to wait and see what arguments will be proposed in support of either side.

    Having said that I am confident that I would be most likely to continue to support the Amateur Organisation over the commercial builder.
     
  11. tim.platt

    tim.platt New Member

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    To make matters worse, I have a feeling you wont hear anything from Company A or B on the 'issues'. They've kept silent on the matter up to now, and there must be a reason for that.

    So ultimately it looks like we will have to make a decision based on incomplete data.
     
  12. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I would argue that we can never know the full nature of their dispute, know the details of their agreement, and certainly not who is "right". While the antagonists might lobby in hopes of swaying public opinion (and what makes you think that there hasn't already been some attempt at that?) in the end we'll never know. Besides, is it really up to ILCA to arbitrate a dispute like this? Should ILCA be stuck in the middle? Isn't this rightfully a legal dispute to be settled, if not directly between the two parties, through the legal system?

    I would argue that who is right or wrong in the dispute is irrelevant to the larger problem that there is a dispute and it has the potential to very soon adversely impact Laser sailing. The crux of the matter is that, whether we like it or not, one builder owns the trademark to call the boat we sail a Laser and affix a Starburst logo to its sail, while another party, independent of ILCA, owns IP rights to the boat and the current ILCA rules (of which WE the sailors control) require an agreement between the two. In today's world, if the two parties cannot come to agreement then, under the current rules, we are in a situation where a builder cannot build a boat but can prevent any other potential builder from building a boat called a Laser and selling it in their trademarked territory.

    The ILCA proposal page says:

    Each of the parties to the conflict has threatened ILCA in various ways – Global Sailing has said it may form a new class association for a “Kirby Sailboat”. LPE informed the ILCA that it intends to form its own “Laser” class.

    From the ILCA page I would see one of the following possible outcomes of the current dispute:
    1) The two parties resolve their dispute and we continue forward as we always have,
    2) ILCA modifies its Class Rules to remove the current Class Rules requirement of of an agreement between a builder and an IP rights holder,
    3) ILCA drop the use of the name Laser and the Starburst Logo, transforming into something like the I1310CA, International 13'10" Class Association, or the IKCA, International Kirby Class Association, or something.

    My guess is that everyone would agree that outcome 1 would be the preferred solution. According to ILCA's statement, they have tried to mediate and have had no success. The ILCA statement "While discussions between the two parties continue we are unsure of the outcome and running out of time" indicates that they feel that its time to go with plan B.

    Outcome 3 is charting unknown waters and, remember, the power of branding is not to be underestimated - just ask companies like Apple that fiercely protect their brand names. But let's say you do become the 13'10" Class, or the 4m Class, or something with some new flashy symbol on the sail. Your biggest hurdle is that you will be competing directly against the current trademark holder who will certainly market a "Laser". As well, what do you do with all the existing Lasers? Do you grandfather those boats into your 13'10" class and exclude all new "Lasers"? Or become a hodge-podge of three potentially different boats, of which you might only have control over one? That's probably only the tip of the iceberg here, there are a number of issues to really think through here but the bottom line is that once you open the door to a "new" class, then why not just invent a more modern single handed boat and move on? The Laser is a 40+ year old design, it is the dominate single handed boat not because its the best boat you could have, but because it has the most number of sailors sailing it.

    In the end, that leaves outcome 2. ILCA tells us this will allow the builder who owns the trademark in Europe, South America, Africa and most of Asia to continue to build and sell Lasers. This does not abrogate IP rights, LP will still need to sort out their dispute with Global Sailing but we, as sailors, can continue sailing while they sort that out.
     
  13. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    I believe you may be right Tim. And my general rule of thumb when being asked to make a decision on very incomplete data is to wait as long as possible to make that decision, on the grounds that the longer I wait the more data might become available and/or the situation might develop in such a way that different options might be on the table.

    Up to now nobody has stated any convincing reason why we have to vote before September. If there is a reason, let's hear it. If not, I'm going to wait and see what happens in the interim and what new information comes out.
     
  14. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Incomplete data, yes. But neither side seems to care about the interests of the class. Definitely making me lean towards a "yes" vote, even if it favors one side over the other.
     
  15. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    My concern is that GS obviously think what they purchased is worth a lot of money whilst LPE think is isn't (or they can't/wont pay for whatever reasons). Thus, if ILCA decide to exclude GS, given the large sums involved I doubt they would shrug their shoulders and write off their investment. I would suspect they would go to court only there is a risk that this time ILCA will be tangled-up in it all whether they like it or not.

    Another risk, given the legal nature of it all, is that, during negotiations it seems GS is allowing LPE to continue building. Were the ILCA vote to exclude them then there would be a risk that the take out an injunction with immediate effect to stop LPE building pending a full legal hearing. And that would well and truly mess Lasers up. So the ILCA's interference may end-up making things worse. Whilst GS, LPE, ILCA, etc. all "want what is best for the class", it will be the lawyers who run the show soon and they do not have the interests of the class as their prime concern.

    As Tracy and others have said, legal issues are complex and without details nobody can really form an opinion about rights and wrongs. But when such large sums are involved, people "fight their corner".

    Ian
     
  16. GBR 134

    GBR 134 Member

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    I am no lawyer but I don't see a legal case being made against a private members club (ILCA) for changing its rules on what constitutes a piece of equipment that meets its eligibility for use rules. Surely the most likely legal case if ILCA wins is GS against LPE for infringement of IP rights (if that is possible) should ILCA allow LPE lasers to meet its revised criteria?
     
  17. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Similarly, no lawyer, but the scope of the law may make a 3rd party liable for losses due to their interference (or at least for there to be a case in court) - no idea.

    But I can see a risk of an injunction against LPE to stop them building. It seems to happen when large amounts of money are involved (I remember last year (?) when a smaller company took out an injunction stopping Microsoft selling their Office Suite whilst a patent hearing was being taken out/waiting because of a dispute about a format MS were using to store documents in - and because the hearing was yet to happen, MS had to stop selling their Office Suite immediately). So risk if GS took out an injunction ...

    But not being a lawyer and not knowing the strength of anybodies case and even the nature of the people or their lawyers ... who knows but we can think of the risks.

    Ian
     
  18. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    Completely agree.
     
  19. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    I tried to explain this whole issue to my wife over dinner tonight.

    After I had finished she asked, " Why don't you just buy a different boat?"
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  20. Dan LXIX

    Dan LXIX New Member

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    And isn't this the risk for class if it doesn't get sorted?
     

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