A spokesperson for Russell Coutts’s SailGP denies Ian Taylor’s claim that Coutts threatened court action to Taylor directly over possible copyright infringement by Taylor’s company Animation Research.
BusinessDesk spoke to Taylor yesterday following news of legal action by Coutts-led companies Oracle Racing and SailGP, against TV graphics used by Taylor’s company Animation Research Limited in December’s Prada Cup event in Auckland, and to be used in March's America's Cup broadcasting.
Oracle Racing and SailGP’s graphics technology is called LiveLine.
Taylor told BusinessDesk: “Russell’s response to me was, even if it looks anything like LiveLine, I hope you’ve got deep pockets because you’ll be in court. That was his response,” when recounting discussing with Coutts ARL’s work on the 36th America’s Cup TV graphics for Team New Zealand.
The spokesperson said SailGP chief executive Coutts denies having ever made these comments to Taylor.
The following statement was also provided, attributed to Coutts: “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 organisers either avoid infringement by revising their graphics, or pay an appropriate license fee.”
As reported in December, Taylor said he and ARL were tasked with redesigning the graphics for the Cup to avoid infringing on copyright held by Coutts’ sailing interests, the US-based companies Oracle Racing and SailGP.
These interests sent a notice threatening legal action against three entities in a communication on Dec. 23.
BusinessDesk understands Team New Zealand was offered access to Oracle software at a cost that it regarded as exorbitant, particularly given its view that the Oracle product drew on graphics software developed by ARL. Taylor said yesterday that ARL does not copyright its graphics software.
Taylor said the legal action is against the visual look of the graphics rather than the underlying technology and that ARL pioneered the look as far back as 1992 for the America's Cup in San Diego.
“We looked at that and thought, that would be debatable,” he said yesterday. “We can just agree with him and say, alright let’s say we agree with you, now here’s our picture from 1992, which you copied. And we’ve got those pictures, it’s all over YouTube.”