LaserPerformance strikes out in court

Published on February 4th, 2021

It was February 2020 when a hearing in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut concluded, it was the result of a 7-year long Federal Court litigation between Laser designer Bruce Kirby and Quarter Moon (QMI) and LaserPerformance (Europe) Limited (LPE).

Alongside their battle with Kirby, LPE had its troubles with the International Laser Class Association (ILCA). After having been the dominant Laser builder for North America and Europe, LPE was removed from the approved builder list in March 2019 when ILCA found them to be building non-compliant boats.

That was strike one. Their second whiff was a year ago when Kirby’s claims were resolved by a jury who unanimously found in his favor, with QMI/LPE liable for a sum of $6,857,736.30, payable to Kirby. But as usual in the US Courts, it takes a while for resolution, but strike three came in a decision dated February 2, 2021.

LPE remains a non-class builder, and while they may appeal this latest judgement to reduce the fees, the case is over. United States District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer explains his latest verdict:
This case is about a long-running dispute involving Laser sailboats. In 2013, plaintiffs
Bruce Kirby and his namesake company Bruce Kirby, Inc. (“BKI”) filed this action against multiple defendants including defendants Quarter Moon, Inc. (“QMI”) and LaserPerformance
(Europe) Ltd. (“LPE”).

Following years of pre-trial litigation, I presided over a jury trial in February 2020 on claims for trademark infringement under the Lanham Act and for common law misappropriation of Bruce Kirby’s name. The jury returned a verdict in favor of both Kirby and BKI.

First, it awarded damages of $4,337,157.49 to BKI for trademark infringement by QMI. Second, it found both QMI and LPE liable to Kirby for misappropriation of his name, awarding damages of $2,520,578.81 against LPE and nominal damages against QMI.

It also found that both QMI and LPE should be liable for punitive damages for the misappropriation claim in an amount to be determined by the Court.

Defendants have moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and for a new trial, while plaintiffs have moved for entry of judgment in their favor. For the reasons set forth below, I will deny defendants’ motion to dismiss and for a new trial, but I will grant in major part plaintiffs’ motion for entry of judgment (subject to a reduction in the damages award), for attorneys’ fees under the Lanham Act, and for punitive damages under Connecticut common law.

All in all, I will award damages of $4,577,315.14 along with payment of $804,179.44 in punitive damages, which includes attorneys’ fees in the amount of $734,528.30.
Here are two documents from the court:
Judgement (2 pages)
Order Re Post-Trial Motions (45 pages)

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