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Court gives $6.8m verdict in favour of Laser designer in long running dispute

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 20 Feb 17:23 PST 16 February 2020
A clear start at 2020 Laser World Championships © Jon West Photography

A District Court of Connecticut Jury has handed down a Verdict in favour of Bruce Kirby Inc, the designer of the ILCA Laser singlehander.

The decision was reached on Friday afternoon after seven years of preliminaries.

A damages award in excess of $6.8million was assessed by the five person jury and was awarded on two counts.

For Trademark Infringement the Jury assessed damages of $4,337,157.49, and for the Misappropriation of the Bruce Kirby name damages of $2,520,578.81 both awards against LaserPerformance (Europe) Ltd for a total of $6,857,736.30

The cases were determined using the "preponderance of evidence" test, which is a lower standard of proof than "beyond reasonable doubt" used in criminal trials.

The assessment of damages had to be the unanimous.

The action was taken by Bruce Kirby Inc against LaserPerformance Europe (Ltd) , the sole builder of the Laser dinghy in Europe and the dominant manufacturer of the class, until its licence was rescinded by the International Laser Class Association in 2019.

The Decision and Award is expected to be Appealed.

It is one of two cases running in the US Courts between the two parties. The second is expected to held in front of a Judge only trial.

Meanwhile the International Laser Class Association is proceeding with the selection and issuance of new Building Licences, and is working through a short list of Builders around the world.

New tooling from master moulds held by the class have been created and sent to the short-listed builders who will have to make their own jigs and then build a sample of ten ILCA Lasers which will be scrutinised by measurers for compliance with the Class Construction Manual before their licence application is approved or declined.

Sail-World has been told that the process will take "a few weeks" after which new ILCA legal Lasers will be able to be supplied under a competitive model without restriction as to territory or prices.

The Laser and Laser Radial fleet for the 2020 Olympics has already been built by Performance Sailcraft Japan who has a licence from ILCA and is the owner of the laser trademark for Japan and Korea.

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