Update from the ILCA on the Lasers Olympic Status and Builder Engagement

Over the three weeks since our last announcement, ILCA has been
working hard behind the scenes to secure our class in the Olympics and
lay the foundations for our continued success.
 
We have engaged in meetings with World Sailing and discussions and
negotiations with the commercial parties towards developing a FRAND
compliant agreement between the relevant commercial parties.
 
All this work has been undertaken against a background of trying to
deliver ILCA’s primary aims: retaining our class in the Olympics,
ensuring the one-design nature of class-legal equipment for sailors in
all regions of the world, and providing world-class events for our
members.
 
We are pleased to say that progress has been made and we’ve seen
positive movement by the commercial parties, but we must stress that
we are still far from a satisfactory final agreement.  Much work
remains to be done.
 
Publicity from some sources would try to indicate that all issues will
soon be resolved.
 
However, we must emphasize that THIS IS NOT THE CASE. To achieve our
goal we are still faced with overcoming many hurdles in an extremely
short time if a satisfactory agreement is to be secured.
 
We are pleased that Laser Performance has publicly claimed agreement
with the terms of World Sailing’s Olympic Policy, but we note that
this is just the first step in reaching an agreement in a complex
multi-party arrangement between the commercial parties.
 
As many people are aware, ILCA has in process a rule change proposal
to remove the requirement for a class approved builder to have the
rights to use a Laser trademark.
 
In a vote of the World Council, this rule change was overwhelmingly
approved by an 11 to 2 margin, including the unanimous approval of all
six ILCA Regional Chairmen.
 
In the case that the Laser trademark holders are ultimately unable to
reach agreement between themselves and World Sailing, if approved,
this rule change would ensure that our class can comply with World
Sailing’s FRAND licensing requirements and remain in the Olympic
games.
 
But more importantly, the rule change would provide that our class is
always governed by our members in the best interest of our sport
instead of being controlled by commercial interests.
 
ILCA understands that the idea of removing the requirement for a Laser
trademark could be seen as contentious, but the clear intention is to
provide our class with the ability to operate independently and to
control our own fate with regards to the Olympic games. We see this as
a positive step forward for our class.
 
In addition, the proposed rule change would allow for new builders and
suppliers to enter the market and would alleviate the supply issues
seen in many parts of the world.
 
For these reasons, we believe the change offers the class its best
option in case an agreement of the commercial parties fails to come
together and as a result we would stand to lose Olympic selection.
 
Going forward, World Sailing have invited all parties to what they
have described as a final meeting this Friday 28th to try and finalise
a comprehensive agreement on FRAND licensing, the status of parties
under the LCMA and compliance with World Sailing’s Olympic contract.
 
In recognition of this meeting and to avoid any negative influence on
the World Sailing initiative, the ILCA World Council has agreed to
defer the launch of the ballot until after this Friday’s meeting. If
the meeting is successful in reaching an agreement with all parties
that will guarantee Olympic retention, the class will take no further
action on the rule change ballot. If not the World Council will
immediately review the options with World Sailing and present our
members with the alternatives available for Olympic retention.
 
We would stress that the negotiations are ongoing, testing and far
from guaranteed of success. They require many parties to relinquish
long-established market positions and make substantial changes to
their business models.
 
Your ILCA World Council are working tirelessly to try and achieve
success in these discussions and to ensure that the strict one-design
philosophy that underpins the success of the class is safeguarded
while respecting the position of all parties.
 
Division within the class can only hinder our efforts to reach a
solution and we ask that all of you support the class we love, support
your representatives and act in the best interest of the worldwide
success of our class.
 
Tracy Usher
President
International Laser Class Association
 
International Laser Class Association
Website: http://www.laserinternational.org