From ‘strange tales of sailing and the law’ comes this nugget; it seems a guy named Richard Smith has defeated the America’s Cup and its legendarily aggressive intellectual property subsidiary, ACPI, and Smith now claims he now owns the trademark on the following words:
“America’s Cup Masters, America’s Cup Legends, AC Masters, AC Legends, Classic America’s Cup, America’s Cup Classics, Historic America’s Cup, America’s Cup Heritage, Heritage America’s Cup, International America’s Cup Class Masters, International America’s Cup Class Legends, IACC Masters, IACC Legends, America’s Cup Class Masters, America’s Cup Class Legends, ACC Masters, ACC Legends, J Class Masters, J Class Legends, 12 Metre Masters, 12 Metre Legends, 12 Meter Masters, 12 Meter Legends, Twelve Metre Masters, Twelve Metre Legends, Twelve Meter Masters, Twelve Meter Legends, Universal Rule Masters, Universal Rule Legends, History of the America’s Cup, America’s Cup History and America’s Cup Hall of Fame.”
ACPI is best known to us as the company that used threats and intimidation to ban the Little America’s Cup from using its own name; a name that had been used for decades before any America’s Cup holder started enforcing it’s claimed rights to the words. Our analysis showed us that it was likely America’s Cup’s Trademark claims were far weaker than they seemed to believe, and we encouraged someone to stand up to bullying by the AC admins, or alternatively we called for the AC to back down and try to help preserve sailing history and the name of a great event, but they ignored all pleas for logic, in favor of greed and exclusivity.
And at least according to one guy, intellectual property law seems to have caught up with the nasty folks at ACPI, even though it seems to have happened very quietly. From the ‘news’ section of AmericasCupMasters.com last March:
“Trademark agents instructed by Sam Hollis, legal counsel for America’s Cup and CEO of America’s Cup Properties Incorporated, have conceded that America’s Cup Properties Incorporated and the America’s Cup Event Authority do not own any intellectual property in America’s Cup Masters. A spokesman for the owners of America’s Cup Masters said today:“We are delighted that the absurdly hostile attempt to take control of the America’s Cup Masters intellectual property by lawyers acting on behalf of America’s Cup Properties and America’s Cup Event Authority has collapsed.”
A quick look at TESS didn’t find any trademarks registered under America’s Cup Masters in the US, but the mere fact that Smith’s site hasn’t been nuked off the internet indicates that the thousand-dollar-an-hour lawyers working for Ellison’s mob didn’t have a case. More importantly, it indicates that they may not have a case against anyone, especially the Little America’s Cup guys. The silence in this case further suggests that Mr. Smith may have agreed to keep quiet about it for the time being, perhaps to prevent appeals or other legal-fee churns, or he may just be British…we’re not sure. But Smith is definitely not going away, using his newfound mastery over the ACPI folks to begin promoting a series of regattas for (we think) 12 metre yachts, or perhaps Tom Ehman’s Super 12s? It’s hard to say, really, though those interested should browse the Masters site for news here.
The Super 12 link could be very interesting given the intellectual property conversation, especially if the link between Smith and Ehman is something more than coincidence; Ehman worked for ACPI for years enforcing America’s Cup trademark rights against dozens of potential infringers…