Tuesday, April 05, 2011


A few days ago I wrote a post Three Laser Classes? about a contentious issue facing the Laser Class. There's a dispute going on between a company who owns the design rights to the Laser and another company who builds Lasers. The International Laser Class is caught in the middle of the dispute and is doing its best to chart a way forward for the class. There are all sorts of players potentially involved in the issue: the original designer, the company he set up to manage his design rights, the company he sold that first company to, the builders in various parts of the world, the trademark owners etc. etc. I'm sure there are several firms of lawyers involved too.

(If you really want to understand more, then check out this thread on the Laser Forum and this interview with Bruce Kirby on Sail World.)

I said at the end of my post, "This could get messy."

I didn't know how right I was.

Today comes news that someone has been threatened with a lawsuit. But it's not one of the players mentioned above. It's just some random dude who expressed an opinion on the Laser Forum that was somewhat critical of two of those major players. He reports today that he has been threatened with a libel lawsuit by the lawyer for those two players, and he's desperately trying to work out how he can edit his original post.

So the message is, "Be careful out there kiddies." This is serious business. And if you express an opinion on one of the various forums debating this topic that is unfairly critical of certain people, you might be hearing from their lawyers.


Pandabonium said...

“You’re a cheat!” shouted the client to his lawyer. “You’re a scoundrel! You’ve kept me hanging for months and got rich on my case alone!”

“That’s gratitude,” said the offended lawyer. “And right after I named my new yacht after you.”

Pat said...

How good was the Phantom?

jbushkey said...

I guess freedom of speech is only for those who can afford it. Where is this post? I'd like to go repeat it word for word then tell them where to go when they sue me.

Tillerman said...

Jbushkey, other people are way ahead of you. The original post that triggered the lawyer's letter has already been "quoted" at length by other posters on the Laser forum and also copied across to Sailing Anarchy's thread on the same topic.

So another thing to be aware of if you want to write stuff about this issue that you don't know to be true, "The Internet is not written in pencil, it's written in ink." That, by the way, is a quote from the movie The Social Network which is quite educational on the topic of how financially serious intellectual property issues can be.

As for "freedom of speech is only for those who can afford it," I guess I would just say that, contrary to what many people think, even the wonderfully free United States of America does not allow absolutely unfettered free speech. And like it or not, libel laws do exist.

This whole Laser class issue does deserve open discussion to enable class members to decide how to vote. It also deserves much more facts about the matter than have been yet been published. What it does not need is people making facts up.

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