Thursday, March 14, 2013

Read the Small Print



Every Laser has a shiny plaque affixed to the back of the cockpit.

It's the way we know that it's an official, legal Laser. (Or at least we thought we did until recently.)

I hardly ever look at mine. I just think of it as "the ISAF plaque."

Occasionally I do look at the plaque on charter boats or resort boats to see what the original sail number/ hull number is.

As I wrote on Monday, Bruce Kirby, the designer of the Laser, has recently filed a lawsuit against one of the Laser builders, LaserPerformance, and the International Laser Class Association and the International Sailing Federation. One of the main claims in that suit is that ISAF and ILCA should not have been issuing plaques to Lasers built recently by LaserPerformance because LP was in breach of its agreement with Kirby, that those boats were not authorized by Kirby, and that by issuing those plaques ISAF and ILCA were infringing Kirby's trademark (his name.)

What? I never even knew Bruce Kirby's name was on that little shiny plaque.

So I checked my own boat.

Sure enough. The plaque does say that this boat is authorised by...

  • the International Yacht Racing Union (now called ISAF - this is a sign how old my boat is)
  • the International Laser Class, 
  • Bruce Kirby Inc. 
  • and maybe somebody else whose name has been rubbed out after 18 years of wear.


I guess it's a message that you should always read the small print.


Wait.

What are those shiny letters running diagonally all over the background of the plaque?

VOID VOID VOID VOID VOID VOID.

What the hell does that mean?

Do I have a counterfeit boat?

Help!

15 comments:

Dallas Dude said...

My guess is the "VOID" became active when the decal was removed from the original surface. Maybe it's time for a torch?

Tillerman said...

I haven't removed my decal. It's still on the boat. Can I sue somebody?

torrid said...

I'm going to remove the "Bruce Kirby" portion from mine with an X-Acto knife, mail it to him, and ask for my $100 back.

Tillerman said...

LOL. You might have to do more than that. I notice that one of the things that Kirby's suit is asking for is "That Defendants, their officers, members, managers, affiliates, agents, employees, servants, representatives, and all persons acting under or in concert with them, be required to forfeit to Kirby all ISAF plaques in their possession."

If taken literally that would mean that all Laser class members would have to send back to Bruce any ISAF plaques in their possession, which presumably includes the ones stuck on the backs of their cockpits?

NRA Member said...

They can have my plaque when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

I think that the words under Bruce Kirby are "Trademark Registered" or words to that effect.

I think that the "void" is intended to prevent copying. It probably shows up far better in the picture than in real life.

Tillerman said...

It does say "& TRADEMARK OWNER". Some of the exhibits that are part of the Kirby lawsuit were posted on the Laser Forum today, including a plaque.

I hope you are right about the VOIDs. They don't show up if you look at the plaque straight on. But if you try and photograph it straight on, the reflective plaque shows a reflection of the camera in the photo. So you have to take it from the side, like I did here. I'm thinking it might be an anti-copying device. I will check out some other boats next time I go sailing with other Lasers.

Baydog said...

It's interesting that when you post about strictly Laser-sensitive topics, more often the lesser-known, more hard-core Laser-oriented readers comment while the regulars tend to hang back. And I don't believe I've ever used four hyphens in any comment before.

Tillerman said...

Good-point Bay-dog.

I do try and remember to mix up the topics a bit. Time for a post on rhubarb next, I think.

Baydog said...

Or Tilapia

Oztayls said...

The VOIDs are obviously some kind of anti copying mechanism. However hard I tried, I could not reproduce your results. I tried flash, no flash and from all angles. Does that mean MY boat is counterfeit?! Unlikely I guess as it's an Australian build.

Steve from Indented Head said...

About to rush out and check daughters boat which we've shared for the last 8 years
Pretty sure there is no sticker on our 140000 ish boat
Do they wear off?
Are we illegal?
Will Bruce sue?
Could someone tell me where to get a sticker?
Can ISAF help? Who are they anyway?

Steve

Tillerman said...

You could be right that your daughter's boat has no plaque. The Laser Class rules say, "Lasers with sail numbers from 148200 shall display a unique ISAF Building Plaque that has been purchased by the builder from the International Laser Class Association." I assume that means that boats earlier than 148200 didn't have them.

Tillerman said...

Tilapia? Again? Why are you so obsessed with tilapia?

BlueVark said...

My laser No. 36,000 odd (count them only 5 digits - and still going strong)certainly has no plaque! :)

Tillerman said...

Interestingly someone pointed out in an online forum a few days ago that ILCA have put out a notice that certain 200,000 series plaque numbers are void. But someone else who should know suggested that this is because some plaques probably went missing at some point, and is nothing to do with the current Kirby lawsuit.

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