Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by Laser Tim, Feb 16, 2013.
Do you care to explain publicly why you chose to no longer pay royalties to Bruce Kirby?
Information posted recently on the ILCA website:
Update on the Ongoing Dispute Between Bruce Kirby, Inc. and LaserPerformance
On March 4, 2013, Bruce Kirby, Inc., filed a complaint in the U.S. Federal Court system, District of Connecticut, with respect to the ongoing dispute between Bruce Kirby, Inc. and LasperPerformance – a dispute that is now entering its fourth year. The complaint is a matter of public record and those who are interested can find more information at this link (http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuits/trademark-lawsuits/connecticut-district-court/441418/bruce-kirby-inc-et-al-v-laserperformance-europe-limited-et-al/summary/).
In addition to naming LaserPerformance, the complaint also names both the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and the International Laser Class Association (ILCA.) Both have been included in the complaint because ISAF plaque sales to LaserPerformance were continued even after Kirby, Inc. informed the ILCA and the ISAF of its termination of agreements with LaserPerformance. The decision to continue ISAF plaque sales (and continue to report them to Kirby, Inc.), taken only after consultation with ILCA's legal advisor and close discussion with ISAF, is seen to be in the best interest of the sailors as it maintains the flow of boats and equipment until such time as a resolution to the dispute is reached.
It has always been ILCA's opinion that the dispute between Kirby, Inc., and LaserPerformance is between those two parties and should be resolved between them without the need for involvement of either the ILCA or the ISAF. As has always been the case, the ILCA remains ready to fully abide by the outcome of the resolution. Further, the ILCA is optimistic that the filing of this complaint will finally bring resolution to this long standing issue.
Until there is an outcome in this dispute, the ILCA will continue to work to carry out its mission – in particular, assuring the success of the world championships scheduled for 2013 and beyond.
The ILCA will continue to update as the situation evolves.
The case sounds pretty cut and dried. Given Rastegar's performance with McLaren Baby Carriages, he'll just fold up LP and create some other new company and transfer all of LP's assets to that new company to avoid paying damages.
My guess is that Zim is going to eat LP's U.S. lunch in the long run, like they have been doing with the 420.
1. Zim signs a builders agreement to make the Torch.
2. LP is forced by the court to turn the Laser molds over to Kirby and to cease building Lasers.
3. Kirby in turn has LP ship the molds down the street to Zim.
4. Torches start coming off the Zim assembly line and parts become readily available.
Any bets on RS doing the same in Europe?
Just an FYI: A few posts back I ranted a bit about calling all lawyers by nasty names.
I believe the fact I can go to a lawyer and describe a complaint and the fact that lawyer can represent my if he finds my complaint to be worthy of pursuit to be a fundamental building block of the freedoms I enjoy.
Certainly lawyers are well paid. They must spend years and years educating themselves, and pass an exam to prove they have readied themselves to represent other human beings in courts of law.
I may or may not give a rats pattotoe who wins this particular case. I care very much that each side has the right to use the American Legal system to help resolve the dispute.
I believe , for the most part, lawyers are the good guys. In fact I believe lawyers are the good guys when the represent ANYBODY, and ECPECIALLY when lawyers represent the most disliked and pathetic.
if our system is to work, everyone must be entitled to representation.
And...as degreed professionals, I have no problem with lawyers making more than the average person who has less invested in his career.
Yes, the lawyers will probablky make a lot of money while assembling arguments and presenting their arguments to judges and juries.
In fact, the deeper pocketed contestants may win this battle simply by outspending the other side.
Without the lawyers, the bullys would simply win all the time.
About my concerns with respect to allowing counterfeit boats to sail in a regatta I host.
If I allow those boats later decided to be counterfeit to race, I may be sued and lose every penny I have managed to save in my entire life.
If I decide a boat is counterfeit and it is later found to be legal by the courts, I may be sued for the loss of a weekend of pleasure, or even for defamation by the owner of the non- counterfeit craft.
Currently I am simply "CONCERNED" about how to treat any hulls which I believe Kirby and his lawyers would sucessfully and legally label as counterfeit.
My current plan is to make note of any suspected counterfeit boats and if it eventually becomes necessary to do so, re-score the event according to whatever the courts decide is proper.
Summary: I Don't know what EXACTLY is the right thing to do. I believe intellectual and contractual rights matter. I know one of our past champions wouldn't much like it if somebody started selling the recordings of this group without paying the band.
I guess this will all hinge on whether ILCA and the ISAF were aware that the builder agreement had been terminated. If they had no official notification from either party then why should they stop supplying plaques?
Were they required to ascertain that a valid builder agreement was in place prior to issuing of plaques?
Were they required to ascertain that all royalties were paid up to date before issuing plaques?
It is not down to ILCA and the ISAF to police the agreements between the builder and the rights holder (IMO), they may have clauses in their own agreements with the rights holder but I feel this is unlikely.
I do maintain that this is more about BKI wanting to regain control of the Laser TM in NA and Europe. Once he has done this then a new builder can be appointed and the class can move on.
I don;t think either side has covered themselves in glory here. This dispute has been rumbling on for over 2 years with the builder agreements only being terminated in July 2012 (some 18 months after royalties stopped getting paid).
Were I the judge I would be asking why there was this delay by the rights holder in terminating these agreements?
I would also want to see all applicable agreements which relate to issuing of plaques to decide if ILCA/ISAF acted inappropriately in continuing to issue them.
Sure there is going to be a financial implication here even if it is only that ILCA/ISAF have to spend a lot of cash on lawyers.....
The problem is, certainly in the UK, that lawyers tend to be the bullies and force people who cannot afford a lawyer to agree to things which simply are not fair especially in civil cases where the standard of proof required is much lower than in a criminal case.
That is a discussion for another day though.....
I do agree that in some cases lawyers are necessary but they are in it to win it as that is how their reputations are built and how they become successful.
If I go into my local supermarket and "act in the best interests of (some) customers" (i.e. remove goods without paying 'cos it is in my interests) I cannot expect the courts to support my actions after the Police are called. Same with my bank where, acting in my best interests might not coincide with the banks interests and their legal and contractual rights. etc., etc. The ILCA may like to act in the best interests of sailors but there are overriding legal and contractual issues. There are loads of things the ILCA could do "in the best interests of sailors" that would be illegal and so they don't do them. I would have hoped for a somewhat stronger defensive statement from the ILCA/ISAF.
I seem to remember, way back, that the ILCA said they didn't actually know what was in the agreement between BKI and LP, and weren't entitled to know, because they weren't party to it.
So the senario could be. BK tells the ILCA not to issue plaques, because LP have breached the agreement between themselves. LP says 'no we haven't, because we don't think the agreement applies anymore". ILCA has no idea what the 'agreement' is, so how can they know who is right? They cannot just accept BKI's word for it, this is business, not a 'nice guy' contest.
I agree with Jeffers - I don't think either side have covered themselves in glory. How did BKI let it get like this?
1. Why are ILCA the ones issuing the plaques, which effectively say the boats built by LP meet the requirements of the agreement between BKI and LP, when they have no idea what that agreement actually is.
2. How did the Laser trademark get separated from the construction manual in the first place.
3. Why did BKI sell to the Aussie outfit, only to then buy it back. That defintely seems like an admission by BKI that their managment of the 'agreements' isn't that great.
I really dont know what LP's end game is. I cannot believe that cutting BKI out of the equation will really make such a vast difference to the viability of building/supplying Lasers. LP's complex web of international companies seems to me to make it almost certain that there is never going to be any profits. Just maintaining that tangled web must cost a small fortune in professional fees.
I can also understand why the ILCA has said very little in public on the subject. As frustrating as that is for their members. Anything they do say in public is very likely to be used against them, so sadly, they are better off saying nothing.
In reference to #2, I believe that at one point in time BK actually built the boats himself. The business went belly up, and he lost the trademark in the bankruptcy while maintaining the design rights via the construction manual.
I think the class will die anytime soon, lose the Olympic status and everybody will have top sail anythign else. I will.
The class will probably be a whole lot better without Olympic status to be fair!
With 200,000+ boats built the class will not die any time soon.
I would agree. Olympic status has added little yet is apparently a massive hindrance (e.g. rumours about reasons for the ongoing delays in the new sail arrival - because of "the Olympics"). Losing Olympic status is a bit of an "ego" thing but does not help so it would be great for this to end.
However, 200000+ boats does mean it wont die soon. But as production stops (or people stop buying because of uncertainty about counterfeit boats), so the top end of the fleet may start migrating to different classes, so competition will decline and we could see a slow decline in the class (something that is already happening in my experience - and I think the sail issues are discouraging some from joining the class - but that is a different debate).
This class of boat will never die, there are just way to many of them in existence for that to happen. It's still, numerically, the largest single class in every sailing club around me, by a long way.
The best thing that could happen to it IMHO is for control of the class (builders / sail makers etc) to be passed to the owners. We are the ones who trully have the best interests of the class at heart. The burden of responsibility for future developments would fall on our shoulders (including the cost of developing and testing), but it would be in our interests to do that.
This approach is being taken by more and more one design classes in the UK , and it appears to work quite successfully (the latest is the Phantom, where the owners now own the moulds and have 'appointed' Ovingtons to build the hulls). I appreciate those classes are much smaller in number terms than the Laser, and are not international, but the basic model seems to work. It gives existing owners much more control over the future of their investment / toy.
If it means the Laser has to drop out of the Olympics, who cares. The Olympics is such a minority sport, I cannot see it would have any effect on the grass roots. In any case, you get the feeling that sailing is forever struggling to justify its inclusion on the Olympic roster, which is increasingly driven by TV ratings and being dumbed down as a result. Sailing really doesn't suit this 'new world' as it's a participation sport and not a sport that is entertaining to watch someone else doing.
I know the SB20 owners were 'cock a hoop' when they managed to move away from the LP/Laser stable and take back control of their class (with the help of the designer).
May be the time is coming when we need to do the same?
Some more light reading.... Funny, I never read the text on the plaque, but hard to miss BK's name on it now (exhibit 16)
Anyone want to help defray my outlay of cash to buy these (or pony up to buy the others..), let me know..
So he gets a royalty of what, about $100 per boat? It's hard to believe that this whole mess is over that. I'm betting LPE wants to make major changes as to HOW they make a Laser. But if they can save another $100, so much the better I guess.
Laser sailing won't die anytime soon because it's fun and challenging. The people who are all up in arms about the topic of this thread are a small minority of all Laser sailors and even they will continue to sail their boats, whether it's a Laser or a Kirby Torch.
I certainly will!
Out of interest (being based outside the US), how long to these types of case take to get to court. I assume the defendants will need to be given some time to examine paperwork; but I can't see they have too much extended investigation as it sounds like a paperwork thing and it should all be readily at hand. Does the US have long delays before a hearing starts or is it pretty quick?
(I suppose my worry is that LPE will be uncertain of the outcome and if they will still be bulding/selling Lasers after it all so are unlikely to keep decent stocks of gear for the boat. When I last needed just a replacement bailer it was a nightmare getting one, so if a similar situation got worse it could be bad news for existing boats. A quick resolution has to be in everybody's interests).
200k boats times $100 per boat is 20 million. In AU they retail for over $7000(I bet BK is getting more than $100). The Dude is 84 years old. I would be pissed as well if the bastards that build my boats won't have the decency to pay me the bit I'm owed.
If he was motivated he could have them all built in Taiwan with better quality and pocket the difference. They do it with $3500 Optimists made in the Far East(brand name).
It's 2% of the wholesale price. A better number to use would be in the neighborhood of $60-80 per boat (and that is at 2013 prices , no where near 20 mil over the course of 200K boats)
So if it's approx 2 years of non-payments for 1/2 to 3/4 of all the boats produced (2 builders, 1 has been paying) in that time period we are talking about maybe 3-4K boats ? The money owed seems just part of the whole suit
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