Interesting. I was just reading through the "chronology" pdf, and the short version seems to be that LP said "do as we say or else", and now they are doing the "else" by forming their own Sunfish association. I wonder what the position of World Sailing is on this? And does a class association have to be "licensed" by "the owner of the intellectual property"?
My first thought concerning the Laser class is that we might be safe as there isn't a sole trademark owner. As long as the Australian and Japanese builders are in the game, LP can't do whatever it wants.
That was essentially what I posted over on SA. With the Laser, there are just too many people seated at the table. That's why the lawsuit fell apart. The Sunfish has just the global builder and the class.
LP has been playing typical dirty pool. Weeks before a world championship, they threatened to withhold containers full boats unless the class signed over rights to both "ISCA" and "International Sunfish Class Association". That would give the builder complete control over the class, and of course the class didn't sign.
Interestingly, the class seems to have opted to allow non-builder supplied parts as class legal. I'm not disagreeing with that given LP's behavior and viability, but appears the neutron bomb has gone off on both sides.
"The World Council was prepared to sign a trademark agreement until LP required that the ISCA initials and the name International Sunfish Class Association name were to be signed over to LP as well."
"In August 2017, the World Council decided that we would not sign the restrictive trademark agreement and changed ISCA class rules to allow non-builder supplied, class approved spars, masts, goosenecks, sails and parts."
I think that will only happen if LP can get World Sailing to turn ISCO into the recognized class association. Plus I really don't think LP is going to want to organize a worlds. It is hardly their core competency (although except for chaos and disfunction I am not sure what their core competency is.)
I guess LP was with holding boats for the 2017 worlds, they had no intention to ship them until the customer, the Charter Supplier, informed them that LP had a Paid in Full contract with him not ISCA and that LP would be liable for all expenses incurred by not delivering the boats.
Once that came out the boats took a faster boat to the US, they made it just in time for the event!
It's complicated. I believe they basically can, with WS support, approve any boat built by anyone for racing under their jurisdiction, but the builder can't call the product a "Sunfish" or use the logo. The same goes for other parts, and it's naturally a problem if the legal non-LP sails can't show the class insignia. So, in the future, we may have "Sunfish" regattas where people use both "Sunfish" and "ISCA" parts, including hulls.
Fundamentally, I don't understand how anyone can prohibit a non-profit organization (like the ISCA) using their trademarks. I understand it's different for builders and dealers.
I think what needs to happen is ISCA and WS need to come up with a new class name and create a construction manually that closely follows the current boat, or at least the pre-China-built boats. LP is free to build boats to that spec, but can only advertise them as class-legal with the approval of ISCA and WS.