The Thruster: A Lesson in #Surf #Business and Copyrights



3 fins – the story of a copyright wrong.


In 1981 when surfer  Simon Anderson turned up at Bells Beach to compete in the Bells Australian surfing classic on a new style of board he’d designed there were some who laughed at him.


his original logo is frustratingly close to the copyright emblem.

The board was quirky and had three fins while at the time surfers were used to boards with one fin or two fins.
Anderson won the Bells competition that day on his ‘Thruster’ board, and went on to claim victory on the same style of board at two more major titles that year, the Coke 2sm surfabout and the Pipemasters. From the day he won at Bell’s Beach other surfers and board shapers copied the three fin ‘thruster’ design which has become the standard fin configuration and board design of today.

Anderson, who was no doubt busy with his boardmaking and professional surfing,  had not patented his three fin design and so the design was duplicated by others. If he’d legally protected his intellectual property Anderson could have profited from the popularity and widespread acceptance of his thruster design. If he’d earned even a meagre $5 for each board made using that configuration design he’d have had vast and ongoing earnings from that one innovative design. His story is instructive, not only for what it might suggest about the importance or unimportance of copyright (depending how you look at it), but also for the insight it gives into how innovative design and cultures of innovation develop. Anderson surfed and  made boards with a group of surfer-boardmakers in the 70s and 80s ,  testing out new designs, ideas, technologies and styles of surfing among other things.

On this site he gives an interview that offers some insight into the design developments and surfing requirements of the time.

This shows some of his current designs.

As boardcollector notes Anderson did not like being associated only with the ‘thruster’ design since he was committed to innovation in board design and created many different kinds of boards.

Simon considers himself a cutting edge shaper and dislikes being only associated with the development of the thruster. from


Original Source…




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