For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last couple of years and who have no idea what I am talking about, you can catch up on the history of this dispute on these posts....
March 2011 Three Laser Classes? - The Laser Class tries to change its fundamental rule to allow the current builder to continue to build Lasers without Bruce Kirby's approval.
November 2011 Mushroom Goes Kirby Sailboating - Bruce Kirby goes public on the dispute and announces that the Laser never was a Laser; it was really a Kirby Sailboat all along.
March 2013 Shit Hits the Fan - Bruce Kirby sues everyone involved including the Laser Class and the International Sailing Federation.
March 2013 Kirby Torch - Bruce Kirby files an application for the trademark "Torch" and I predict he will use it as the new name for the Laser.
Confused? I'm not surprised. So am I.
If you want more detail you can check out the 21,749 posts on this topic on the Sailing Anarchy Dinghy Forum, the Laser Forum, and the Yachts and Yachting Forum. I suspect that when you have read all of those you will be even more confused. Some of the people on those forums are even more in the dark than I am and have even less grasp of the accepted rules of logic and argument than I have.
And so today (or maybe a few days ago - I'm not all that sure) we have a new website about The Kirby Torch.
According to this website...
- On March 25, 2013, ISAF sent a letter to Jeff Martin of the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) which stated as follows: "...ISAF requests that ILCA cease to issue ISAF plaques to LaserPerformance (Europe) Limited and Quarter Moon Inc. (the "Builders") with immediate effect."
- "...ISAF has concluded, based on the correspondence and court papers received from Bruce Kirby's attorneys, that the Builders are no longer licensed by Bruce Kirby and/or Bruce Kirby Inc. to build the Laser class boat (as required by the 1983 ISAF Agreement and our 1992 Plaque Agreement)."
- Current manufacturers of the Kirby sailboat under the Laser brand are in the process of converting over to manufacture the Kirby sailboat under the Kirby Torch brand.
- Bruce Kirby Inc. has today signed Builder Agreements to manufacture the Kirby Torch in regions serving the needs of sailors in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
- Bruce Kirby Inc. and the Torch Builders have been trying to negotiate with the International Laser Class Association in hopes it would replicate itself as the Torch Class. This is considered the most expedient way to establish a Torch Class because Bruce Kirby Inc. and the Torch Builders all agree that all authorized Laser brand boats with ISAF plaques will be class legal in the Torch Class.
I have no reason to doubt the veracity of the first two points,
I have no idea what the third point means or the evidence for it. Has LaserPerformance thrown in the towel and are they switching over to making Kirby Torches? I would need some more evidence before I believe that.
Point 4 may well be true but I am not sure who the new builders really are. The three builders listed on the website are the current Australian builder (generally believed to be allied with Kirby in this dispute), a Dutch company with very little web presence, and a Canadian company which has the same address as the Canadian Yachting Magazine. Are the latter two real boat factories?
Point 5 sounds plausible. If Kirby is to be successful in relaunching the Laser as the Torch with new builders, it would help him a great deal to obtain recognition from the existing Laser Class. If the Torch becomes a reality we need some way to allow Torches and Lasers to race together under one class organization. But who knows how the Laser Class will respond to this suggestion?
I don't think this is the the end of this dispute.
Not by a long way.
I think it is just a maneuver by one party in the early stages of a legal dispute that will eventually get settled in court.
But then what do I know?
Update #1. There you go. As soon as I post the above, I see that those clever people at Scuttlebutt with their worldwide news gathering organization are one step ahead of me. See What led Bruce Kirby to rename his boat which explains the whole dispute much more clearly than I have, and specifically has much more information on the Canadian Torch builder.
Update #2. And how about this timing? Only last week the US Trademark Office sent Bruce Kirby Inc. a Final Refusal on its application for the Kirby Torch trademark. I'm no lawyer but I think I'm right in saying that this is not actually "final" and BKI can appeal this decision.
Update #3. The Laser Class response: "The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) is disappointed to learn about the actions by Bruce Kirby Inc concerning the introduction of a new class association whilst there is an unresolved legal dispute between Bruce Kirby Inc and some Laser builders. The ILCA continues to believe that it is necessary to resolve the current legal issues before considering possible alternatives, and remains committed to working towards a resolution."
Update #4. Sail-World article: Kirby says "The idea of saying we should all just sit and wait until the court case… That’s bullshit."
Update #5. And now there is an online petition asking "the International Laser Class Association to consider all of the options available, and not to rule anything out without consulting the very membership they are there to serve."