The other shoe has dropped. First Callaway filed suit against Acushnet over the 2009 Pro V1. Now, Achushnet has filed a lawsuit against Callaway over the other company’s Tour i and Tour ix. The press release follows:
Acushnet Acts To Protect Intellectual Property
Acushnet Asserts U.S. Patents Against Callaway’s Tour i and Tour ix Golf Balls; Acushnet Defends Pro V1 Family Against Unfounded Assertions by Callaway
Fairhaven, MA (March 3, 2009) – Acushnet Company, manufacturer of Titleist, the #1 ball in golf, today announced a series of actions to protect the intellectual property related to its golf ball products.
Protecting Acushnet Intellectual Property
Acushnet filed a patent infringement lawsuit today against Callaway Golf in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In its complaint, Acushnet asserts that Callaway’s Tour i and Tour ix golf balls infringe nine United States patents from Acushnet’s extensive golf ball patent portfolio covering multi-piece, solid core technology.
“As the industry leader, we respect the valid intellectual property of others and expect others to respect ours,” said Joe Nauman, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Legal, Acushnet Company. “We believe that disagreements like these are best dealt with between the companies involved and we have repeatedly attempted to resolve these disputes. When these discussions failed, Callaway left us with no other course of action but to move forward with this lawsuit. We are hopeful that these matters can be resolved, but we will continue to protect our intellectual property rights.”
Protecting Pro V1 Family from Unfounded Assertions
Acushnet also announced actions to vigorously defend against assertions by Callaway that the 2009 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls infringe Callaway’s patent rights. These claims are without merit, as Acushnet has designed its new Pro V1 models to be outside the claims of all Callaway patents. Acushnet has today asked the court to rule that the patents asserted by Callaway are not infringed and are invalid. Acushnet is also in the process of filing for reexamination of these and other Callaway patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
“These actions do not impact our customers’ and golfers’ ability to purchase and play our new Pro V1 golf balls,” said Wally Uihlein, Chairman and CEO, Acushnet Company. “We remain committed to providing golfers with the highest quality, best performing golf balls, and to insuring that the choice of what ball to play remains with the golfer.”
Acushnet Remains Confident in Ongoing Litigation
Acushnet also underscored that it remains confident in its ongoing appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit of the mixed verdict rendered more than a year ago in the long-running patent dispute with Callaway related to the validity of four patents that Callaway previously asserted. Since the jury verdict, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has issued final actions determining that those patents are invalid, and these favorable Patent Office rulings will be considered in the appeals process.
“It’s regrettable that one of our competitors would rather compete in the courtroom than in the pro shop,” Nauman concluded. “However, we are committed to seeing these matters through to appropriate conclusions. While all litigation is uncertain, we remain confident that we will prevail.”
Acushnet is the industry leader in developing golf ball technology and has over 650 active golf ball patents – more than any other manufacturer. The Titleist Pro V1 has been the world’s best-selling golf ball for more than seven years and is the product of technology developed and accumulated by the Acushnet Company over the past 20 years. Over 65 Acushnet Company patents are related to the Titleist Pro V1 family.
Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra Golf comprise the Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands (NYSE: FO). For more information, please contact Joe Gomes, Director of Communications (508.979.3211) or visit us online at http://www.titleist.com.