ILCA gives LPE the boot... seeking new Laser builder

Wess

Super Anarchist
Sad day. What a disaster for the class. Sorry to see it come to this. @Gouvernail I am impressed that you were able to do more than the class did.  What the heck...

Ain’t no winners anymore no matter how the vote ends. If it passes its a fractured class, litigation (our dues paying for lawyers instead of sailing) and high priced boats. If it fails we likely still have a semi fractured class at best, no plan, and good people that will have no option but to resign. This sucks.

 

jgh66

Anarchist
This is EXTREMELY frustrating.
Gouv, 

you made clear that you don't like the change from SMOD to MMOD. I can understand that, many other sailers will feel the same. But in fact the Laser is not SMOD but MMOD as there are 3 builders already and there are/were differences between different manufacturers. When you look at other MMOD classes you will see, that actually there are sometimes fewer builders than in the Laser class. 470 has 2, Finn 2, Tornado had 1 builder. There are of course others that have a license, and may build a few boats, but in general the number of builders is very small. 

For Mr Rastegar: if he thinks long enough about the current situation he may eventually find out, that it's best for him to even support the class rule change. Next to the Kirby Laser he is selling other boats under the brand name Laser, and even Lasers Standard/Radial/4.7 are not only sold to dinghy racers, but also to sailing schools, holiday centers, leisure sailers and the like. By allowing others to use his brand name he also opens a path to this market for other builders, that otherwise could probably stay customers of his company. You were talking once about 90% of the boats are not sold into the racing circuit. I don't believe that it is that much in europe, but it's still a big part of the business. Therefore I can understand that it's hard for him to let others use his brand name, and I don't think that the parties have a chance to find a license fee compromise that can work for all of them. As CEO of LPE you only have two routes you can go: Either fight as hard as you can, pay more laywers, try to sue anybody and lose customers cause everybody hates you or play nicely and cooperate with these "crazy" sailers.. and lose customers. Just my 2 €ct. Would love to hear your view on that. If you have been talking for 2 hours with him on the phone you might know more about what he thinks. 

 

Wess

Super Anarchist
Further from Chris Caldecoat/PSA;

Laser Sailors please vote, it is very simple, you heard it from me, your current trademark owners/builders are not going to agree to terms that World Sailing are looking for and the only way to allow this great class to move forward and remain Olympic is to vote Yes.

I will not agree to a licence fee for a name that will increase the price of the boat and parts.
Where did you get that quote?  It makes it sound like PSA rejected the LPE terms proposed.  Odd if that is the way it went down.

Be interesting to see what EurILCA does and says as they maybe hold the keys to which way the vote goes.

 

torrid

Super Anarchist
1,064
416
Gouv, 

you made clear that you don't like the change from SMOD to MMOD. I can understand that, many other sailers will feel the same. But in fact the Laser is not SMOD but MMOD as there are 3 builders already and there are/were differences between different manufacturers. When you look at other MMOD classes you will see, that actually there are sometimes fewer builders than in the Laser class. 470 has 2, Finn 2, Tornado had 1 builder. There are of course others that have a license, and may build a few boats, but in general the number of builders is very small.
I posted on this a couple of weeks ago.  There are multiple builders, but up until now they have had exclusive territories and did not compete directly with each other.  That makes it effectively SMOD, especially at the club level.

 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,119
1,647
Further from Chris Caldecoat/PSA;

Laser Sailors please vote, it is very simple, you heard it from me, your current trademark owners/builders are not going to agree to terms that World Sailing are looking for and the only way to allow this great class to move forward and remain Olympic is to vote Yes.

I will not agree to a licence fee for a name that will increase the price of the boat and parts.
Oh the hypocrisy!

I support the vote, but am I the only person who sees this straight-faced hypocrisy?  

For the last 6 years PSA/GS has been in court fighting for a license fee on every boat and the right to approve or disapprove builders (not FRAND).   If PSA really believed in abandoning license fees and delegating the appointment of builders to ILCA and WS, then publicly announce that you are dropping your lawsuit.

Come to think of it, why doesn't WS make it a condition of the Laser remaining an Olympic class, that the law suit is settled by August 1st?

It would certainly be better for the class if this warfare was finally over.

 

martin 'hoff

Super Anarchist
2,044
977
Miami
Sad day. What a disaster for the class.
Hmm? Why all the wailing? Am I missing part of the news? What I see is that ILCA on one side, and Vellum/LPE signed an agreement on the trademark license. This resolves one part of the conflict.

As far as I can tell, ILCA folks have their eyes on the prize, which is Olympic status, and by extension WS-required FRAND. They wouldn't have agreed to any terms that get in the way. So ILCA folks must see this as a step forward towards an endgame that includes FRAND.

So there's grudgy voices announcing some progress.

It's wrong to get too attached to particular aspects of the status quo when things are changing, and a negotiation is due. You can recognize a true negotiation if all parties had to give up something they cared about. Everyone loses something in a negotiation -- otherwise it's not a negotiation, it's a walkover.

The big step that is pending is that LPE lifting the territorial restrictions on the trademark for the other builders. Either builders pay a differential per-boat license for boats sold in theirs vs others' territories, or the license is flat for every boat sold anywhere. They'll cede control but the pie will remain large -- the alternative is retaining control of a pie that'll shrink significantly.

So I expect LPE folks will be extra grumpy, but their options are fairly limited. I expect a bit of a tantrum, and finally they'll concede.

 

Bruce Hudson

Super Anarchist
3,251
846
New Zealand
For the last 6 years PSA/GS has been in court fighting for a license fee on every boat and the right to approve or disapprove builders (not FRAND).  
PSA agree with the terms set by World Sailing. Part of the new agreement structure is that ILCA and World Sailing select and approve builders.

It is good that ILCA and Velum have reached agreement for ILCA to use the Laser trademark.  Part of that was Velum dropping of the clauses which ILCA objected to.

Does anyone have a copy of the actual clauses which were dropped? 

It is worth noting there were no issues in the areas not controlled by Velum (Rastegar). For example Japan and South Korea.

In the meantime, this small agreement is worth cracking open a bottle of Bordeaux. 

JNCH2LRSTYI6RNV5ACCKCZTJQ4.jpg


 

RobbieB

Super Anarchist
3,128
1,593
Charleston, SC
Thanks for posting some actual noteworthy information!  In and of itself it does not mean much but its at least not a step backwards.  A step forward maybe.  Maybe its a sign that they all agree to punt on the challenging parts of FRAND terms and just put a wallpaper agreement in place and let the businesses and courts (if it ever got there) decide if terms offered were fair and reasonable or not. That is one - maybe the only - face saving way out for all of them.  They can says its FRAND never reveal the details of the contracts and life goes on...

... except the US supply problem would still be a problem.

Be interesting to see what ILCA says if anything.  Hello @SFBayLaser and or @aroy210677.  Got milk?
Wess- I'm having a hard time understanding the downside of what happened yesterday.  Fortunately or unfortunately I think we all agree that for the health of the class it's now become important for it to retain the Olympic status.

This is a step, (kind of a big one IMHO) in that direction.

So, LP remains, (or is very likely to remain) one of the builders, but that kills future lawsuits.   I'm still hoping FRAND will mean NA will get it's own builder and we'll see the supply issues resolved.

Help me out with the downside guys...

 

WestCoast

Super Anarchist
I am working on understanding the supply system. 

As I understand it, there is a warehouse in Connecticut with Laser brand boats and equipment in stock. 

My impression is smaller dealers order from that  stock. 

You seem to order and sell in volumes more like might be expected from a distributor 

Are your Laser brand deliveries generally or always from the warehouse in Connecticut or do they generally or always come from England? Some of each? Are your smaller orders more rapidly  filled than your large orders? 

Back to you @WestCoast
Gouv-

I believe we are the largest laser dealer in North America (not bragging, just giving you scale).

We order (and prepay) for any boats we want for the year in November, and they arrive in February. 
These come direct from the UK in a container like all our other RS containers.

Boats are supposed to be kept in stock in CT for ‘fill in’ orders, and yes, for the small or seasonal dealers to draw from.

It’s been my experience in the last 4-5 years that not only is that stock not reliable, the transportation costs due to dwindling sales make the entire effort very expensive, prone to shipping damage and logistically challenging to coordinate.

So, we avoid that (and I think this is a reason why so many dealers in the last decade just gave up bothering).

And FWIW: we have sold almost all our new Lasers for the year (they had plaques), and I’m not planning to order any new boats until there is clarity on the future of the class/builders.  I will need more, but it’s not worth the risk.

Parts are handled differently, and in a much less consistent fashion, as I’ve noted months ago in this thread.
The strategy to attempt to supply parts changes often, and the best we can do is try to prepay as much as we can and roll with the punches/delays/confusion/frustration.

The situation is far from ideal, and the lack of predictability, associated costs with delays, frustrated customers and confused marketplace means we continue to see a steady decline in interest and sales of Lasers.  I think our own company has benefited disproportionally from so may other agents just giving up.  But, to be honest, those small dealers are what helped make the whole system work. So, it’s good for us on some levels, but, the general decline in Laser sales has been massive and precipitous, and I don’t see much hope that it’s going to reverse course at this point, even with wholesale changes to distribution, stocking and marketing efforts.  

We remain hopeful and are ready to assist the class with parts, product and the things we’re known for as a company.
But, it’s not an easy situation from the operational and/or emotional connection to a boat I’ve raced and loved for ~20 years.

 
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torrid

Super Anarchist
1,064
416
And FWIW: we have sold almost all our new Lasers for the year (they had plaques), and I’m not planning to order any new boats until there is clarity on the future of the class/builders.  I will need more, but it’s not worth the risk.
I hope the ILCA World Council, WS, and all the builders read and appreciate this.

 

RobbieB

Super Anarchist
3,128
1,593
Charleston, SC
Gouv-

I believe we are the largest laser dealer in North America (not bragging, just giving you scale).

We order (and prepay) for any boats we want for the year in November, and they arrive in February. 
These come direct from the UK in a container like all our other RS containers.

Boats are supposed to be kept in stock in CT for ‘fill in’ orders, and yes, for the small or seasonal dealers to draw from.

It’s been my experience in the last 4-5 years that not only is that stock not reliable, the transportation costs due to dwindling sales make the entire effort very expensive, prone to shipping damage and logistically challenging to coordinate.

So, we avoid that (and I think this is a reason why so many dealers in the last decade just gave up bothering).

And FWIW: we have sold almost all our new Lasers for the year (they had plaques), and I’m not planning to order any new boats until there is clarity on the future of the class/builders.  I will need more, but it’s not worth the risk.

Parts are handled differently, and in a much less consistent fashion, as I’ve noted months ago in this thread.
The strategy to attempt to supply parts changes often, and the best we can do is try to prepay as much as we can and roll with the punches/delays/confusion/frustration.

The situation is far from ideal, and the lack of predictability, associated costs with delays, frustrated customers and confused marketplace means we continue to see a steady decline in interest and sales of Lasers.  I think our own company has benefited disproportionally from so may other agents just giving up.  But, to be honest, those small dealers are what helped make the whole system work. So, it’s good for us on some levels, but, the general decline in Laser sales has been massive and precipitous, and I don’t see much hope that it’s going to reverse course at this point, even with wholesale changes to distribution, stocking and marketing efforts.  

We remain hopeful and are ready to assist the class with parts, product and the things we’re known for as a company.
But, it’s not an easy situation from the operational and/or emotional connection to a boat I’ve raced and loved for ~20 years.
Our local area dealer, (for the past 20 years) hung it up about a year and a half ago.  Between LP and Zhik shenanigians he finally threw in the towel.  While I for one loved the December 2018 50% Zhik sale it really shut down any dealer direct sales to customers which hurt their December bottom lines.

 

Wess

Super Anarchist
@martin.langhoff and @RobbieB - I really can't say much and may be misinformed but I am not optimistic. The events of yesterday were a signing of an IP licensing agreement with ILCA that at least according to some (right or wring) is about to become irrelevant post the vote announced today assuming the vote passes. Again, I may be misinformed or have misunderstood but the vote was described to me as removing LPE and thus the name Laser from the landscape and that the IP agreement with the class was a red herring.  I do NOT know the truth of any of this.

 
LP previously faced three choices:

Option 1 :  Agree to a "blind" trademark licensing agreement establishing a preset licensing trademark agreement to unknown 3rd party builders.

Advantages:  (i) You get a guaranteed license income from every boat sold in your region  (ii) All boats are still called Lasers, so the brand name remains preeminent for your other products. (iii) Everyone is happy .

Disadvantages : (i) It will be hard to distinguish your product from other competitors  (ii) It will be extremely hard to design and agree on a suitable royalty fee without knowing the other party (Will they increase sales overall? Will they be buying parts from you ? etc etc)

Option 2 :   Support the rule change, with the proviso that you remain a builder in your existing markets.

Advantages (i) You will have a significant competitive advantage in your regions with the brand name (provided you can deliver on supply, service and price)

Disadvantage (i) New competitors will be approved in your region and their sales will generate zero income for you.

Option 3 : Oppose the rule change and not agree to a "blind" trademark license agreement. In effect, propose the Laser is dropped from the Olynpics

Disadvantage :  The Olympics is an important component of the sales pitch for the Laser. Overall Laser sales will decline further.

Advice to LP (free and therefore worthless)

1 - If the royalty fee being proposed is too low to make option #1 work, simply opt for #2.

2 - If the rule change is going ahead anyway, opt for option #2.  There is no sustainable advantage to option #1.

What I would do if I was LP now.

-  Surprise everyone by coming out all in favor of option 2. Announce that it is in the best interest of sailors that the sailors control their own destiny. Encourage Laser sailors to vote for the rule change.

- Surprise everyone even further that LP has voluntarily decided that it will be working with ILCA and WS to identify additional builders in markets currently under-served by your current supply chain and that LP will be voluntarily licensing those builders on a FRAND basis to use the Laser trademark. However those licensing agreements will be bilateral between LP and the licensed builder. Each licensing agreement will be negotiated on its own merits.  They will be fair and non-discriminatory.

- Immediately invest in a huge improvement in supply and service in North America. Create a task force and call it the "Laser Partnership" including your most important dealers, North American regional representatives of Laser sailors, regional regatta organizers, senior class officers and a chair from LP and charge it with coming up with a strategy to improve the supply chain and reinvigorate Laser sailing in North America. The strategy would likely include designating regional "super dealers" . It might include appointing a small US based builder licensed by you with the Laser trademark to fill in supply for small orders and seasonal demand. They would agree not to undercut your super dealers but they would be small, highly motivated, flexible and able to make a very good living from adding 50 Lasers per year to their production line.....50 boats that you would not otherwise sell because they would be filling a market gap.  The task force would brainstorm any number of  ways to promote class racing and contemplate new ways to fund that promotion. As sole owner of the trademark, you could contemplate any number of branded accessories that would ride on the crest of this wave of new found enthusiasm for the class.  Renew staffing at LP in the US with fresh enthusiastic leaders who really connect with sailors and dealers and will provide a service like non other.   In other words, make the market virtually impenetrable to unbranded imports because you and your licensee are providing such an incredible branded service  

- Launch a direct-to-customer unbranded Laser product in Australia, sold at a compelling basic price with little to no service from a central warehouse relying on scale production to keep costs down.

- Appoint licensed builders in South America

- Appoint a licensed builder in China

- Maintain current high level of service in Europe and Other Asia  but make some of the improvements described above as appropriate.

In other words....compete with your brand and service.

Or just sell the business to me and let me do it :D

 
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Dex Sawash

Demi Anarchrist
2,444
680
NC USA
Option 2 :   Support the rule change, with the proviso that you remain a builder in your existing markets.
Would LPE have any way to know if the class would have to accept LPE-produced Kirby dinghies? 

With the re-litigation of the blowTorch thread and all the new stuff, I may have lost the plot somewhat.

 

RobbieB

Super Anarchist
3,128
1,593
Charleston, SC
I just voted.  Read all the info.  This vote could very well pass or fail, (particularly if the EU class members are against this).  If it passes, (IMHO) it puts the production ball in ILCA's hands and gives the class a lot of leverage over LP to get with it and play nice.  Also, we need this for FRAND and the olymipcs either way.

If it fails, LP holds the production cards and leverage.  

I see it as necessary either w/or w/out the Olympics.  Especially if we want to see improvements in boat and parts availability. 

I'm trying to see the potential downside of this rule change, but really can't find any.  We are stuck in downside at the moment, (at least NA sailors are and perhaps others) so I just see this as a way out.  

Others?

 

tillerman

Super Anarchist
5,013
2,391
Rhode Island
I do remember that in the previous vote (to remove the need for a Laser builder to have an agreement with BK or BKI) a lot of people thought it was a "no-brainer" and voted on the first couple of days the poll was open.

Then, as the debate progressed and more information emerged, some of those people realized that they had voted the wrong way and wished that they could change their votes.

This situation strikes me as even more complicated than the earlier vote. I would caution everyone to wait at least a week or so before casting their votes. So far we have only heard from ILCA and PSA.

 

 
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Would LPE have any way to know if the class would have to accept LPE-produced Kirby dinghies? 

With the re-litigation of the blowTorch thread and all the new stuff, I may have lost the plot somewhat.
I'm not sure I really understand the question. I believe ILCA and WS could tell LPE that they will be reappointed as a builder. I imagine European voters will want to know this before voting.  Tracy suggested they could be reappointed provided their boats and management complied with the LCM.

If PSA wants to try and prevent this in court then the Laser would not be FRAND compliant until the case is resolved.

 

tillerman

Super Anarchist
5,013
2,391
Rhode Island
IPLore quite rightly pointed out that he (or she) has (along with ILCA and PSA) given us some advice on this complicated matter. I was of course reminding people that we haven't heard from all the parties involved yet... especially LaserPerformance and the leaders of the various regional and district Laser classes (especially those in Europe who represent 62% of all Laser class members worldwide.)
 

 
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