2011 Rule Changes - Fundamental Rule

SFBayLaser

Member
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?
An offer was made, unfortunately rejected. The bottom line is that the price is much higher than ILCA can afford.
 

torrid

Just sailing
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.
 

Deimos

Member
An offer was made, unfortunately rejected. The bottom line is that the price is much higher than ILCA can afford.
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
 

Cefalu

New Member
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.
 

Cefalu

New Member
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.
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.
 

154537

Member
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
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
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.
 

torrid

Just sailing
"I am amazed that this has come up. I made a very considered choice as to who I would like to look after the rights of the designer, builders and Laser sailors. I chose the Spencer family because they are long time builders. They are financially secure and have been dedicated sailors for generations. It’s not something I did lightly and I did it for the good of the class."
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.
 

SFBayLaser

Member
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.
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.
 

154537

Member
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?
 

Der_Dude

Member
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.
 

Deimos

Member
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
 

jimmy

New Member
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.
 

Capt Tony

New Member
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.
 

RockHead

New Member
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.
 

torrid

Just sailing
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.
 

SFBayLaser

Member
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.

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.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
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.

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.
 

SFBayLaser

Member
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.

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.
 

154537

Member
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.
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?
 

SFBayLaser

Member
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.
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.
 

LooserLu

LooserLu
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
 

LooserLu

LooserLu
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
 

18109

New Member
[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
 

RockHead

New Member
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.
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.
 

torrid

Just sailing
Note to builders - if you insist on destroying the class, you won't have any market left.
 

oldfart

Member
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.
 

sorosz

Member
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?
 

gouvernail

Super Opinionated and Always Correct
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.
 
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.
Doesn't sound like an altruistic bunch of folk, does it?
 

SFBayLaser

Member
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


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.

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?
 

gouvernail

Super Opinionated and Always Correct
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??
 
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