Authorship of Umpire Decision Review System: Sri Lankan claims recognition from ICC
Posted on April 12th, 2015

Senaka Weeraratna is the innovator of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) and he has claimed recognition from the International Cricket Council for the authorship of the UDRS.

Here are the copies of letters sent to him by International Cricket Council’s Legal Head David Becker and his reply.

Dear Mr Weeraratna

Thank you for your email of 5 May and the comprehensive bundle of papers which you have provided in respect of your claims relating to the Umpire Decision Review System.

Senaka Weeraratna

I have had the opportunity to fully review this correspondence and the bundle of papers.

Unfortunately I have no other choice but to respectfully reject the assertions that ICC must recognize your ‘claims in law as the innovator of the Umpire Referral Rule’.

Firstly, you do not specify anywhere in your correspondence the basis of your claim in law. I am assuming that you are relying on some sort of intellectual property right upon which to found your assertion. You do not particularize exactly what that intellectual property right may be.

It is generally accepted in law that there is no protection of an idea in law. That is the reason why people sign non-disclosure agreements to protect ideas.

In this case, ICC did not sign any such agreement. Furthermore, you chose to publish your idea all over the world in a variety of magazines and newspapers, such that you would be taken to have waived your right to confidentiality of the idea, even if such was protectable in law. Secondly, even if you were to establish an intellectual property right in the concept of a decision review system for umpires (which for the avoidance of doubt is denied), you would need to show that ICC took your idea without your consent and used it.

This, in turn, presupposes that the relevant ICC committee members who came up with the idea were even aware of your idea and the details thereof in the first place.

It was the ICC Cricket Committee who first developed the idea of the review system for ICC, and I can assure you that the members thereof did not at any time during their deliberations have any regard to information which came from you.

With respect, they were not, and are not, even aware of who you are.

Finally, the idea of using a video referral system for decisions in sport goes back well beyond 1997, as is evidenced from Simon Gardiner’s article in Sport and the Law Journal Video Adjudication in Sport” [1999] 7(1) SATLJ 26.

With the development of more accurate technology over the years, it is not difficult to see how it would be a natural development in the thinking of the most respected minds within the game of cricket to develop such an idea for umpiring decisions and progress it to the point where it now stands.

We respectfully recognize that you are an avid fan of the game and have taken much trouble to publish your ideas in various parts of the world for the benefit of the game which you love.

You have also taken much trouble to collate the relevant bundle of papers and take up the matter with Sri Lankan Cricket and the ICC.

This is acknowledged and appreciated. However, we cannot accept that ICC ‘copied your innovation’ such that it owes you any credit for, or association with, the Umpire Decision Review System.

Kind regards

David Becker

Head of Legal

International Cricket Council

Emirates Road, Dubai Sports City, Street 69

PO Box 500070, Dubai, UAE

March 23, 2011

Dear Mr. Becker

I refer to your email dated 09th May 2010 and regret the delay in replying same caused due to having to obtain legal advice in relation thereto. In view of the legal advice received by me in relation to my rights concerning the Umpire Decision Review System as being currently adopted and used by ICC, I am compelled to deny the contents of your said email.

The idea that the decisions made by an on field umpire shall be subjected to process of reviewing was conceived by me in or around 1997 and the said idea of mine found expression in the form that;

  1. a dis-satisfied player shall have the opportunity to appeal against a decision of an on field umpire;
  2. such appeal shall be routed through the captain of the relevant team (when the team is fielding) and through a batsman of the relevant team who has been dismissed by an on-field umpire upholding an appeal by the fielding side for his dismissal
  3. such appeal shall be made to the third umpire; and
  4. the number of appeals per inning against the decisions of an on field umpire shall be restricted.

The said expression of my idea was contained in several articles authored by me and published in several newspapers and periodicals having a wide readership including:

  • ‘Australian’ – March 25, 1997;
  • ‘Times of London’ – May 02, 1997;
  • ‘Sunday Age’ Melbourne – April 06, 1997;
  • ‘Sunday Times’ (Sri Lanka) – April 06, 1997;
  • ‘Dawn’ Pakistan – May 09, 1997;
  • ‘The International Cricketer’ (United Kingdom) – May 1997;
  • ‘Australian’ – February 20, 1999;
  • ‘Northern Territory News’ (Darwin) – March 01, 1999;
  • ‘Daily News’ (Sri Lanka) – March 02,1999;
  • ‘Sunday Island’ (Sri Lanka) – March 14, 1999;
  • ‘Time’ Magazine – June 07, 1999.

When regard is had to the Umpire Decision Review System as being currently adopted and used by ICC, it is apparent that the same had been developed by substantially taking from the aforesaid – my expression of the idea that the decisions made by an on field umpire shall be subjected to a process of reviewing upon a player referral.

Further, it would not be difficult for me to establish that the members of the relevant ICC Committee who, according to your said email, purportedly came up with the idea of the review system, had access to the aforesaid expression of my idea due to the same having been widely publicized much earlier in time as aforesaid.

In the aforesaid circumstances, the acts of the ICC constitute a violation of my moral copyright by failing to attribute the authorshipof the Umpire Decision Review System currently being adopted and used by ICC to me and also my economic copyright by publicly adopting and using the same without my license.

In the above premises, I trust that ICC, the controlling body of a sport that has come to be referred to as the ‘Gentleman’s Game’, would act in a manner that fits the reputation of the game which it

represents, towards my rights vis-à-vis the Umpire Decision Review System as being currently adopted and used by it.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Senaka Weeraratna

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