Sailmaker battle ended by men in robes

Published on September 15th, 2020

While sailmaking companies battle on the race course for market share, those battles have on occasion required lawyers and judges. Such was a case heard by the United States Court Of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

This case was the swan song in an epic saga of unending war over trade secrets and the unlawful sales of sails. Unlike the model of the Iliad, it was ended not by men in a horse but by men in robes.

The appeal came from a district-court summary judgment awarding damages, sanctions, and pre-judgment interest in the amount of $2,521,754.88 to plaintiff Quantum Sail Design Group, LLC (“Quantum”) against Jannie Reuvers Sails, Ltd. (“JRS”) and Leading Edge Sailmakers, Ltd. (“LES”) in an action brought by Quantum for breach of contract and for breach of the parties’ Trade Secret License Agreement.

Prior to when the lawsuit was filed in 2013, JRS and Quantum had a cooperative agreement, but when JRS terminated that agreement and purchased Ullman Sails International (USI), things got messy.

Quantum alleged that JRS continued to use Quantum’s trade secrets in violation of the Trade Secret License Agreement, that it manufactured membrane sails unlawfully under the trade name of Ullman Sails, and that USI had been unable to produce membrane sails prior to joining forces with JRS.

Quantum further alleged that, over time, JRS had downloaded from Quantum’s servers more than a thousand sail designs, many of which were for sails never built in South Africa, which was JRS’s licensing region.

The final ruling confirmed the early judgement, and if you have an appetite for court documents, click here.

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