Marquis Yachts and VanDutch have returned to court, but this time VanDutch’s European parent and a Netherlands-based yacht designer are suing the US builder over the rights to build the boats.
Last week’s filing in a US district court in Wisconsin follows a 2015 court case in which Marquis sued VanDutch Marine, a UK-based firm that contracted Marquis to build VanDutch models. Marquis alleged that VanDutch Marine did not honour the terms of the manufacturing contract. The Wisconsin builder said VanDutch did not provide usable plans, tooling or moulds for the yachts. After the companies settled the lawsuit, Marquis continued to build the VanDutch models for four years.
In this latest lawsuit, Marquis is being sued by VanDutch Inc, the US subsidiary of Netherlands-based VanDutch Holding BV and Mulder Design Intellectual Properties, for alleged copyright violations. The plaintiffs argue that they own the copyright to VanDutch Yachts and that Marquis has built and sold the boats without permission. “These are our rights. We paid for them,” Frank Mulder, founder and owner of Mulder Designs, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The yachts were originally built in the Netherlands and in 2013 production moved to the Marquis facility in Wisconsin.
Last year, VanDutch Marine, which held the original agreement with Marquis, became insolvent. “They ended up losing the business, and there’s been constant litigation by people about who owns what,” Irwin Jacobs, owner of Marquis Yachts, told the paper.
One of the plaintiffs, Mulder Design, terminated its license agreement with VanDutch Marine after the company went into bankruptcy. Mulder then informed Marquis that it needed to pay royalties for the designs. Jacobs said the companies talked but never came to an agreement.
Jacobs said that Marquis intends to finish several VanDutch Yachts at its facility, even though Mulder and VanDutch Inc, have asked them to stop.
Mulder said VanDutch Inc could find another builder and wants the moulds back from Marquis. “What Irwin Jacobs forgets is that we have the rights to build these boats wherever we like. We have copyrights on these boats. Marquis cannot go on building them without our consent,” Mulder told the paper.