Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Thanks to commenter Litoralis on yesterday's post for discovering that Bruce Kirby Inc. has recently filed a trademark application for this stylized image of a torch, and for pointing out that if you were planning to market a boat called a Kirby Torch, this would be an excellent sail insignia to use.


JP said...

Nice bit of detective work between you and Litoralis.

I wonder why its not in red (or is it)?

Tillerman said...

Thanks but it's all out there on the web.

The application for the torch symbol specifically says, "Color is not claimed as a feature of the mark." I guess that means they are leaving their options open at this stage. It could be red.

The Imperative Voice said...

There is a potential that the court could conclude Kirby can control certain builders and certain identifiers by contract, copyright, or TM, but conclude that for builders without a contract, not using the identifiers, there is no patent hurdle to making Laser imitations (either because the boat never looked quite like the patent, or because the patent expired). LP put out a message today saying Laser and the sail symbol are its property, suggesting Kirby doesn't contest that.

The quandary I see is that, of the list of required Laser identifiers in the bylaws, some may be builder items (the name and the known symbol) and some may be Kirby things (licensed builder, plaque). So Kirby may need a new insignia for his own boat, if LP has the known one.

One nice thing about Lasers is a unified class and I hope all this multiplication of potential identifiers isn't headed down the road of splintering classes, an official Torch class, an unofficial Laser class, an imitation boat class, etc. I hope this can all get settled but I'm a little concerned that the core issues are who can make them and who gets paid, the sort of things I could see people fighting to the death about.

Tillerman said...

TIV, according to Kirby there never were any patents for the Laser (and I guess he should know.) So any talk of patents is a red herring. An LP company does indeed own the trademark rights for the Laser (at least for the parts of the world in which LP sells Lasers.)

For some time there have been indications that the Australian Laser builder, PSA, would like to start selling Lasers in territories currently served by LP. Of course they couldn't call those boats Lasers or use the Laser symbol because LP owns the trademark rights for those territories. I am guessing that these Kirby Torch trademark filings are part of a plan by PSA and Kirby to get around that problem. (But I could be wrong.)

I too am concerned what all this might mean for the future of the Laser class. I am hoping we can keep a unified class with one set of class rules that allows Lasers and Torches (if they are called that) to race together, but it's not clear whether this will happen or not.

torrid said...

I sort of wonder what the International Olympic Committee thinks of the torch symbol and obvious Olympic connotation. Yes it's a stretch to think they could or would sue over it, but they've got deep pockets.

Tillerman said...

Great point torrid. I did do a bit of googling around earlier today to see what torch symbols the Olympics might have trademarked. The Pan-American Sports Organization (a group of 42 National Olympic Committees) does have a torch trademark - but it is quite different from this symbol.

hetzeilen said...

It will be the same Laser but given some stringers making the deck a little bit higher, the cockpit can be made flush. I can't wait for higher temperatures to finish mine:

Nice info gathering by fellow readers though!

Jon Deutsch said...

Have you see this article in Boat Builder magazine that mentions Kirby's connection with Torch - last paragraph on page 3.

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