Coutts in America’s Cup legal dispute

Published on January 10th, 2021

Five-time America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts may not be competing in the 36th edition, but he has initiated a legal scuffle regarding the broadcasting of the event.

Coutts alleges the graphics used by Sir Ian Taylor’s Animation Research for pre-Christmas racing were in breach of copyrights held by two companies he leads – Oracle Racing and F50 League LLC which trades as SailGP.

A legal notice alleging copyright infringement for the graphics known as the LiveLine system of augmented reality broadcasting was sent to Animation Research Limited (ARL) and two other parties on December 23. The outcome of the High Court action has ramifications for how the upcoming Prada Cup and the America’s Cup is broadcast.

Taylor says he’s “deeply disappointed” that his fellow New Zealander served his company with a breach of copyright notice that could “seriously impact the coverage of both the upcoming Prada Cup and the America’s Cup itself”.

Coutts, in a response to questions by the New Zealand Herald said, “We are simply seeking to safeguard IP [intellectual property] that we invested millions of dollars to develop over the last decade.

“We prefer not to be forced to protect our rights via legal processes, but as with all copyrighted material, it must be licensed for use by commercial entities.

“We have requested that the current America’s Cup organizers either avoid infringement by revising their graphics, or pay an appropriate licence fee.”

Taylor claims the two Coutts-led companies are asserting copyright based on imagery ARL created back in 1992 and that have been used since in every America’s Cup.

It is understood Oracle Racing and SailGP believe intellectual property associated with the Animation Research graphics was transferred to the events’ organizers at prior America’s Cup regattas.

Source: New Zealand Herald


36th America’s Cup
In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and the Netherlands were also accepted. Here’s the list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAWN
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA) – WITHDRAWN
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAWN

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
✔ October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
✔ February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ April 23-26, 2020: First (1/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia (CANCELLED)
✔ June 4-7, 2020: Second (2/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, England (CANCELLED)
✔ December 17-20, 2020: Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
• January 15-February 22, 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
• March 6-15, 2021: The America’s Cup Match

Youth America’s Cup Competition (CANCELLED)
• February 18-23, 2021
• March 1-5, 2021
• March 8-12, 2021

AC75 launch dates:
September 6, 2019 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10, 2019 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2, 2019 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4, 2019 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1
October 16, 2020 – American Magic (USA), Boat 2
October 17, 2020 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 2
October 20, 2020 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 2
November 19, 2020 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 2


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