Laser Update: ILCA Blames LP for Lack of Progress; Petition Asks for the Resignation of ILCA's Leadership

The "ILCA Magic Formula"
Source: https://www.facebook.com/ILCANorthAmerica/
The international Laser class ILCA released today an announcement titled « Discussions Continue Towards Olympic Certification, » just a day after its European branch EurILCA released a comprehensive statement about how it sees the future for the Laser.

See our coverage of the EurILCA announcement: « Europeans Outline Way Forward for Laser Class. »

ILCA blames UK based LaserPerformance for the absence of an agreement, particularly regarding FRAND, which must be resolved for the Laser to be Olympic in 2024.

« Since World Sailing’s required FRAND policy was approved in November 2018, ILCA has reached out on numerous occasions to work with the various builders and IP rights holders towards a FRAND compliant policy.  Unfortunately, Laser Performance did not engage in this process. »

« To date, both Performance Sailcraft Australia and Performance Sailcraft Japan have agreed to the terms of World Sailing’s FRAND policy. However, Laser Performance and its relevant trademark holder have, to date, not accepted the specific terms of World Sailing’s FRAND policy. »

Remember, LaserPerformance, the world’s largest Laser builder and holder of the Laser name and logo trademarks for most of the world, was terminated by ILCA as an approved builder earlier this year. The termination was announced on March 27 by ILCA, and ILCA also indicated on that occasion it was confident to have new builders soon.

Note also that both the Australian and the Japanese builders have lot to gain from an opening of the market controlled by LaserPerformance (Europe, North and South America, etc.), as they both serve relatively small markets in Asia and Oceania.

Regarding the name of the boat, ILCA states:

« To be clear, it is ILCA’s strong preference to retain the LASER brand name. However, for the benefit of the sailors, the sport and the current and future Olympians, ILCA is prepared to move forward with an alternate brand if that is what is required to maintain our position in the Olympics and ensure the long-term success of our great class. »

Yesterday, EurILCA had asked for changing the negotiation team with LaserPerformance and for Mr Beat Heinz, a Swiss Laser sailor who sits on the executive board of EurILCA, to lead from now on the negotiations with LaserPerformance.

ILCA does not approve the demand, and suggests instead the status quo:

« ILCA is actively engaged in this process, working closely with World Sailing and utilizing all available resources, including the assistance of EurILCA representatives. »

While there seems to be no progress, the parties continue to talk:

« Discussions are scheduled to continue next week with a follow up meeting scheduled for mid-week. We will continue to provide updates as the process moves forward. » states ILCA.

Surprisingly, while the Laser is still the official name of the boat, the North American class has changed today its Facebook page, now called ILCA North America, which now shows drawings of boats with the ILCA name.

There is even a drawing of the so called « magic formula » referring to the transition from the 4.7 to the Radial and to the Standard. (see screenshot)

Will ILCA (the class) find the « magic formula » for the ILCA (the boat), or the Laser of course if no name change occurs, to sort out these issues by the August 1 deadline set by World Sailing?

Over 500 Sailors Call for the Resignation of ILCA’s Leadership

A petition titled « We, Laser sailors and class members from all over the world, want a more democratic ILCA » was launched on Change.org on May 30th, the same day as the EurILCA’s circular.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/robertscheidtvela/
As of writing the present post, it had just reached 500 signatures. It has received the prominent support of Robert Scheidt, multiple world champion and Olympic medallist, who posted the petition on his own Facebook page.

The petition goes beyond the EurILCA circular as it calls for immediate resignations at the level of ILCA.

« we are concerned that the current ILCA management can’t or does not want to find solutions for the IP/brand/license and frand agreement with current builders. »

« considering they have also violated our constitution communicating the name change without the previous members' approval, we are asking the president, vice president and the executive secretary of ILCA to immediately resign from their positions. »

The other aspects requested in the petition resemble those from the EurILCA circular.

« We, Laser sailors and class members from all over the world, want a more democratic and transparent ILCA that:
* Respects our constitution letting the members vote on any proposed change.
* Spends our budget on projects that are important to the sailors and not on legal fights or product development.
* Achieves a better representation of the Laser membership in the ILCA World Council.
* Helps to introduce the 4.7 rigs in regions where it’s not popular instead of trying to replace it with new equipment
* Does not change name and emblem of our class! »

Find the online petition at this link.

————

ILCA Statement - May 31 2019

Discussions Continue Towards Olympic Certification

On May 19th the World Sailing Council voted to retain the Laser and Laser Radial Class boats as equipment for the Men’s and Women’s One-Person Dinghy events for the 2024 Olympics.

Full approval for the 2024 Games is now contingent on the relevant parties agreeing to the terms of the Olympic Classes Contract by August 1, 2019.

The Olympic Classes Contract will implement World Sailing’s Olympic Equipment Strategy agreed by unanimous vote of the World Sailing Council in November 2018.

The Olympic Equipment Strategy is now a World Sailing policy and requires that any interested party who meets the necessary technical qualifications will be able to manufacture and sell Olympic equipment.

If the boat or equipment is protected by patents, trademarks or other intellectual property, the owner of the IP rights is required to grant a license to any qualified new manufacturer on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (known as ‘FRAND’).

Since World Sailing’s required FRAND policy was approved in November 2018, ILCA has reached out on numerous occasions to work with the various builders and IP rights holders towards a FRAND compliant policy.  Unfortunately, Laser Performance did not engage in this process.

In the absence of an agreed policy from the builders, ILCA has proposed a licensing system that would protect each party’s IP rights by allowing for fair and reasonable license fees to be collected from any new manufacturer that enters the market.

This system would not only protect all relevant IP rights, but would also allow for new manufacturers of boats and equipment to help resolve the supply issues effecting many parts of the world and to help create healthy competition in the market.

In addition, World Sailing has now presented specific FRAND licensing guidelines that will be included as part of the Olympic Classes Contract and that must be agreed by all Olympic classes.

To date, both Performance Sailcraft Australia and Performance Sailcraft Japan have agreed to the terms of World Sailing’s FRAND policy. However, Laser Performance and its relevant trademark holder have, to date, not accepted the specific terms of World Sailing’s FRAND policy.

World Sailing is spearheading continued discussions with ILCA and the various builders with the goal of obtaining agreement on the Olympic Classes Contract and implementing a FRAND compliant licensing policy before August 1, 2019.

ILCA is actively engaged in this process, working closely with World Sailing and utilizing all available resources, including the assistance of EurILCA representatives.

Obtaining agreement with the current IP rights holders will allow the class to continue under the LASER brand name.

However, if the IP rights holders fail to agree to FRAND licensing terms, ILCA will explore all other available options to retain Olympic status, including putting forward a rule change vote to allow class legal equipment to be sold under an alternative brand.

To be clear, it is ILCA’s strong preference to retain the LASER brand name. However, for the benefit of the sailors, the sport and the current and future Olympians, ILCA is prepared to move forward with an alternate brand if that is what is required to maintain our position in the Olympics and ensure the long-term success of our great class.

Discussions are scheduled to continue next week with a follow up meeting scheduled for mid-week. We will continue to provide updates as the process moves forward.

Source: https://www.laserinternational.org

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