No announcement yet.

The Laser Has Been Torched!

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Laser Has Been Torched!

    It appears the the Laser is no longer. The Bruce Kirby Designed dinghy will now be known as "The Torch". Read below for the details!

    Affectionately referred to as "The Million Dollar Doodle" Bruce Kirby sketched this car-topper sailboat which he then took to the drawing board for completion. The boat was introduced to the world in late 1970 as the Laser. With more than 210,000 boats built and fleets in 141 countries, it has become the most popular racing sailboat in history.

    Bruce's "car-topper" got off to a fast start, becoming an IYRU-recognized international class in 1974. Then in 1983, the original builder went bankrupt and rights to the design reverted to Bruce Kirby Inc. Not a boat builder himself, Bruce struck agreements with new builders throughout the world and the international governing bodies to rescue production of his popular racing sailboat.

    Under these agreements, builders paid a royalty to Bruce Kirby Inc. in exchange for the right to manufacture boats according to Bruce Kirby's sailboat design and uniform Construction Manual, and to affix a plaque on the hull of each boat featuring Bruce Kirby’s name and trademark, and a unique hull/sail number.
    The plaque confirms that the boat was built according to the Kirby sailboat design and is authorized by Bruce Kirby. Only those boats manufactured under the various builder agreements and bearing the appropriate plaque were entitled to race in events sanctioned by the international governing bodies.

    This system worked to the mutual benefit of the builders, the international governing bodies, Bruce Kirby, and sailors worldwide for almost 30 years until certain builders decided to breach their agreements by, among other things, ceasing royalty payments. Notwithstanding their breach, these builders continued using both the Kirby sailboat design and the Bruce Kirby name and trademark.

    After exhaustive negotiations failed to resolve the continuing unauthorized manufacture of Bruce Kirby’s sailboat design, Bruce Kirby Inc. took the carefully considered step of terminating the builder agreements in Europe and North America late in 2012. The decision was not an easy one to make, but Bruce had been through a similar situation back in 1983 and the continued deterioration of the class and sailors' best interests demanded action. Bruce Kirby Inc. considers boats made by the terminated builders and distributed under the Laser brand to be without his authorization and therefore counterfeit.

    Early in 2013, Bruce Kirby Inc executed new builder agreements and rechristened his beloved "car-topper" the KIRBY TORCH. This new chapter of his venerable racing sailboat design looks every bit as promising as the period following the last upheaval in the class some 30 years ago.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    Thats going to be a big boon for vendors selling laser products, reselling the same stuff with a different name and logo!


    • #3
      amazing how one simple sketch could create such a market for such a well-recognized trademark sailboat! wow


      • #4
        Opens doors for new world champions, etc. But what does it do to Olympic standings?


        • #5
          The Legaleeze


          • #6
            April 24 Update

            From ISAF:

            "On 22 March the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) published a statement concerning the Laser Class dispute and proceedings filed by attorneys acting for Bruce Kirby.

            Since then, Bruce Kirby Inc. published information regarding the launch of the "Kirby Torch" boat. The legal situation is on-going but ISAF can confirm that:
            ISAF has been named a co-defendant in the legal proceedings filed in the US District Court by attorneys acting for Bruce Kirby.

            ISAF strongly denies the allegations made against it in the proceedings.
            The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) is recognized by ISAF as responsible for the organization and administration of Laser dinghy activities worldwide.

            The Laser dinghy has been selected by ISAF as the equipment for the Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy events at the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition (with corresponding contractual arrangements in place).

            ISAF regards the recent announcement of the Kirby Torch dinghy as a fundamental breach of contractual arrangements between the parties concerned with the Laser class. ISAF has therefore exercised its right to end those arrangements and will negotiate new arrangements directly with the ILCA.

            On 23 April 2013 ISAF approved a proposed amendment to the Laser Class Rules which was approved by ILCA members in 2012. The amended rule permits ISAF and ILCA to approve builders of the Laser who have the right to use the Laser trademark.

            The requirements for new classes to obtain designation as an ISAF Class are defined in ISAF Regulation 10. ISAF Regulation 23 defines how an ISAF Class can be selected as equipment for the Olympic Sailing Competition.

            ISAF remains committed to working with all the parties to the dispute in order to negotiate a settlement. Our primary concern is for the sailors around the world and we will continue to work towards a resolution.

            Statement from the International Laser Class Association
            23 April 2013

            "The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) is aware that over the past few weeks various web postings by persons unaffiliated with ILCA may have caused some members to become confused about the current status and the future of the class. After close cooperation and direct consultation with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) ILCA can announce the following:

            ISAF and ILCA have taken steps to assure the uninterrupted supply of class legal Laser brand sailboats around the world. This includes making newly designed ISAF plaques available to all the current ISAF and ILCA approved manufacturers of the Laser dinghy in accordance with the ILCA class rules. These plaques indicate that all required fees have been paid to both ISAF and ILCA. In order to receive ISAF plaques, manufacturers must continue to adhere to the strict building specifications and one-design standards required by ISAF and ILCA.

            For the avoidance of doubt, ILCA is not changing its name or taking on the management of a class association for any new brand of sailboat. Class legal Laser brand sailboats will continue to be available through ISAF and ILCA approved manufacturers and their existing dealers.

            ILCA assures its members that all scheduled World and Continental Championships will be held as planned. We are excited about our upcoming regatta schedule and do not anticipate any disruption to the necessary supply of class legal Laser brand sailboats for any of our future events.

            ISAF has confirmed that the Laser brand dinghy remains Olympic equipment and will be used for both the men’s and women’s one-person dinghy events at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and remains the core equipment through the 2020 Olympics. ISAF informs us that supply contracts for the provision of the equipment for the 2016 Olympics were signed in 2012.

            ISAF has approved two changes to Part One of the ILCA Class Rules. These changes have been approved in accordance with the provisions of the ILCA Constitution and the ILCA Class Rules. All necessary votes and approvals have been conducted and are officially recorded. In the case of the member vote, votes were verified for membership validity by each District or Regional authority. The results were then audited by an independent audit firm, which reported 1017 ‘yes’ votes (89.3%) and 122 ‘no’ votes (10.7%), showing that over two-thirds of the voting members approved the rule change as required by the ILCA Class Rules, Part Five, article 30(c).

            The reasons for these rule changes have been well documented and more information on this subject can be found here:

            The new wording for Part One of the ILCA Class Rules is effective immediately and can be found here:

            ISAF has today made a public statement regarding this situation, which can be found here:

            ILCA has been named as a co-defendant in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and has been recently notified of the plaintiff’s intention to formally serve ILCA with the complaint. ILCA intends to vigorously defend itself if necessary, but our primary focus continues to be facilitating a meaningful settlement dialog between the parties in the hopes of reaching an amicable resolution. ILCA has always favoured a negotiated resolution to this dispute.

            To be clear, ILCA is not a judge or a court of law and takes no position on the relative merits of the claims made by either of the commercial entities involved in the law suit. ILCA has always maintained that this dispute is based on contracts to which it is not a party and has repeatedly encouraged and requested the commercial parties to these contracts to voluntarily engage in meaningful settlement negotiations. ILCA once again urges the real parties to this dispute to settle their differences and avoid unnecessary expense and damage to the reputation of our sport.

            With over 15,000 members organized in over 100 countries, ILCA is committed to protecting the investments made by its members and the interests of sailors on all levels – from the local club racer to those who aspire to represent their countries in the Olympic Games. ILCA cannot allow a commercial dispute to disrupt 40 years of work fostering the sport of sailing and developing the most successful youth and adult racing class in history.

            ILCA is optimistic about the future of the Laser class and confident about its leading position in the sport of sailing. We remain dedicated to organizing great regattas around the world and protecting the organisation and strict one-design principles that have served as the cornerstone of our class."

            Posted: 23rd Apr 2013
            " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

   Photo Gallery


            • #7
              Sounds like Kirby isn't torching anyone just yet!


              • #8
                Looks like a collective FU to Kirby.


                • #9
                  Kirby Responds


                  "In an attempt to rescue the Laser Class from its downhill course of the past few years I have reluctantly decided that a name change, or re-branding is necessary. During the past three or four years dealers have had difficulty getting timely delivery of boats, and in particular, of parts. We have had calls and e-mails from various parts of the world asking if there is anything that can be done to save the Laser. To give some idea how critical the situation with Lasers has become (as of mid-April, 2013) there is a boat shop in Toronto which has 52 American-built Lasers that have been brought in for repairs of various kinds.

                  Laser Performance in both Europe and North America own the name LASER and the sunburst symbol on the sail, but they don’t own the boat. Because I am owed quite a bit of money by these firms in unpaid design royalties it has been possible for me to terminate their building rights at both factories.

                  What the Laser sailing public must try to get their heads around is that it is not the name of the boat that matters, It is the boat itself - that 13’ 10” bit of fiberglass and aluminum that provides us with untold pleasure. I love the name Laser. I was there in the beginning when then builder Ian Bruce came up with it. I have lived with it and revered it for more than 40 years…but I know that if the boat is to be saved it must have a new name.

                  Laser Performance were terminated as builders last year, but the lawsuit was filed this year because production of the Laser unlawfully continued after termination. The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) in lock step with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) participated in this unlawful manufacture by refusing to stop issuing Laser Performance the stick-on ISAF plaques that are attached to the inside of the aft face of the cockpit, identifying the boat as an authorized Kirby Sailboat permitted to be used in Laser class and ISAF sanctioned events.

                  I have tried to work with ILCA and ISAF on rebranding the boat, but they refused and demanded instead that I get a Court Order. So they are named in the lawsuit. After filing of the lawsuit, ISAF initially asked ILCA to stop issuing ISAF plaques to Laser Performance, but I don’t yet know if ILCA complied. In a new twist, ISAF and ILCA now seem prepared to issue a new version of the plaque to Laser Performance which removes my name from my own design. This is not only against the Laser Construction Manual which ISAF and ILCA claim to hold Builders to, thereby insuring a true one-design class, but also reveals their true strategy to steal my design. The irony in all of this is that by continuing to provide plaques to Laser Performance against my wishes and our contracts, both ISAF and ILCA continue to collect money from Laser Performance for every boat made even while I am not being paid the design royalty.

                  In any event, all builders of the Laser have been terminated and the Kirby Sailboat will only be lawfully built under the Kirby Torch brand. This does not violate any prior agreement I have with ISAF and ILCA since they explicitly only relate to manufacture of the Kirby Sailboat under the Laser brand. ILCA and ISAF have trumped up a “breach” in order to push through the “Fundamental Rule” change designed to excuse nonpayment of my royalty by Laser Performance. Their actions make their intentions clear: Steal the Kirby Sailboat from its designer.

                  New builders with stellar sailing and boat building credentials have signed agreements to follow the Construction Manual so that new Kirby Torches will be exactly like old Lasers, and both boats will be able to compete side by side under the rules of the Kirby Torch class. We have asked ILCA to set up the Kirby Torch class, but they continue to ignore us and the Torch even though there are no longer any licensed builders for the Laser. Go figure?!

                  So if you agree that what we are doing is in the best interests of the boat, please urge ILCA and your district Laser class organizations to cooperate with us for the sake of sailors throughout the world.

                  This is your boat. It’s my baby, but it’s your boat. With a simple change of the name we can offer a better quality product, consistent delivery and the steady supply of parts. The Kirby Torch Builders and Class Association will serve sailors—that is our promise to you and the reason I am taking on this fight. The fight is about pulling the boat out of the swamp it has been dragged into and handing it back to the sailors cleaned up and ready to move ahead for another 50 years. I have been disappointed with the treatment handed to me by those who should be firmly on the side of the sailors, and so at the age of 84 I am throwing all my energy into meetings, phone calls and e-mails to save the little boat.

                  Please join me in this endeavor and support the Torch. I can no longer race with you, but I can cheer you on."

                  Bruce Kirby

                  Rowayton, Ct. U.S.A.

                  April 24, 2013

                  " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

         Photo Gallery


                  • #10
                    Some thoughts on the issues.

                    I am not a lawyer, but I have read the various documents posted and have some comments. I should also stress that I have no connection to anyone involved, except that a couple of decades ago, I raced Lasers.

                    The central issue appears to be a contract dispute (not, as others would have you believe, an IP dispute) over unpaid royalties. ICLA's involvement in this contract dispute is not clear.

                    It does appear that Kirby is owed a substantial amount of money and is rightfully upset that the some builders continue to build Lasers without paying royalties.

                    Thankfully, Born 2 Sail posted the documents in the case, including a couple of the contracts. It is my humble opinion that the one of the agreements puts Kirby in a rather weak position with respect to ICLA and ISAF. My analysis is completely based on the documents posted by Born 2 Sail. Other agreements may exist that change the situation completely, making my analysis irrelevant.

                    Clearly, Kirby's attempt to involve ICLA in the lawsuit is aimed at providing leverage against the builders. If ICLA stops issuing plaques, the builders cannot sell Lasers. ICLA's approach is not altogether irrational -- ICLA is not party to the contracts that are the origin of the dispute (the builder contracts), so why should ICLA stop providing plaques without a court order? The agreements state that Kirby will issue numbers, but I don't understand the theory under which an entity can be prevented from issuing numbers to another entity in the absence of a contractual agreement not to issue numbers. ICLA's responsibilities under the agreement don't seem to be tied to Kirby's agreements with the builders.

                    However, Kirby's lawsuit against the ICLA has some problems. The biggest of these is the arbitration clause in the 4-way '83 agreement. US courts are very keen on arbitration, so if the ICLA and ISAF file responses that claim that the court is the wrong place for the dispute to be litigated, I would expect the court to agree and dismiss ICLA and ISAF as defendants.

                    This is not the end of issues that I see for Kirby. According to my reading of the agreement, he has neither the right to appoint new builders for the Torch without the agreement of the IYRU (ISAF), nor to have the sails for the Torch finished. One might read the document and think that such rights (the IYRU to approve new builders and Laser International Holdings to define who can finish the sails) would only apply to the Laser, but the agreement explicitly defines the "Laser Class Boat" in a way that likely applies also to the Torch.

                    US courts tend to take a dim view of "self help" and arguably, Kirby's actions to create the Torch could be seen in this light.

                    Finally, I believe that Kirby's trademark suffers from the same vulnerability that Kirby claims the Laser suffers: if the plaques use the Kirby trademark, I cannot see anything that authorizes this. This implies that Kirby has consented to unauthorized use of his trademark for several decades which would make it vulnerable to invalidation. It is possible that I have missed the clause in the agreement that licenses the use of the trademark, or there is another agreement that provides the license, but in the absence of these, I believe Kirby has made his own trademark vulnerable to invalidation.


                    • #11
                      Reply from LaserPerformance, etc. paints a differnt picture of the dispute.

                      LaserPerfomance and Quarter Moon have responded to the lawsuit and it paints a very different picture of the dispute than the story we have got from Kirby.

                      See this link:

                      I have no involvement in the dispute. No connection to anyone involved in the dispute.
                      Last edited by Whoever; 06-13-2013, 10:17 PM. Reason: Add disclaimer