America's Cup 2021: Animation Research improves graphics for race day


Sir Ian Taylor has revealed new graphics to be used today during the broadcast of the first Prada Cup races.

It comes amid a copyright stoush between Taylor and Sir Russell Coutts.

The Herald earlier this week broke the news that Coutts’ sailing interests Oracle Racing and F50 League LLC, which trades as SailGP, had alleged copyright infringement over graphics used by Taylor’s Animation Research Limited (ARL) during racing last month.

The graphics allegedly used were what is known as the LiveLine system of augmented reality broadcasting, which were overlaid on live footage of racing action.

A still image of the graphics Animation Research intends to use today. Photo / Supplied
A still image of the graphics Animation Research intends to use today. Photo / Supplied

The Coutts-led companies threatened High Court action if the graphics were used in broadcasting the 36th America’s Cup, which Animation Research has been contracted to provide for.

The most successful helmsman in America’s Cup history said he was wishing to “safeguard the IP [intellectual property] that we invested millions of dollars to develop over the last decade” but preferred not to be forced to use the courts.

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

But Taylor disputes the claim. He says the two Coutts-led companies are asserting copyright based on imagery ARL created back in 1992 and that have been used in every America’s Cup since then – including in 1995 when Coutts famously made “the America’s Cup, New Zealand’s Cup”.

“We have delivered those graphics for events where he has also raced against New Zealand, starting with him taking the Cup away from New Zealand with Alinghi (Switzerland) in 2003 and then winning it off Alinghi for BMW Oracle (USA) in 2010,” Taylor said.

Taylor, who was recently knighted for his work, said ARL’s team had been revising its graphics, which were provided exclusively to the Herald, up until yesterday.

He said he was yet to be contacted by Coutts after filing a response to his claims.

“Although we don’t believe you can copyright a ribbon effect on the water with writing on it we have introduced our 3D panels that rise vertically out of the water, which we can rotate if we want, to make sure that the sponsors brands are fully optimised. This is new so will be an original work by ARL,” he said.

Sir Ian Taylor, the founder of Animation Research. Photo / Dean Purcell
Sir Ian Taylor, the founder of Animation Research. Photo / Dean Purcell

“If Russell, Oracle Racing and SailGP still believe they have a right to claim this copyright because they did it first then we should try and get that sorted quickly so the viewer isn’t compromised and these teams can give us the exciting race coverage that we have already seen coming out of these remarkable racing machines.”

The LiveLine system is protected under a US patent and the Coutts-led companies have asserted copyright over certain elements, including an outer course boundary border, the ability to display written material within the border, and a grid under parallel lines to reflect the direction and distance of boats to the next mark.

Sir Russell Coutts. Photo / Getty Images
Sir Russell Coutts. Photo / Getty Images