Golf Patent Shocker

This should cause a few headaches:

Callaway Golf, arguing that Achusnet has infringed on its patents, apparently has won a court order permanently ending the sale of the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball.

Achushnet, the owner of Titleist says that it will appeal, but already has converted production of the Pro V1 so that it no longer violates the patents. Under agreement by Callaway, pros will be able to use the ball through the end of this year.

Titleist apparently will release a new Pro V1 next year that doesn’t use any of the patents in question.

So either way, this has the potential to end the run of a ball that has dominated the Tour for nearly ten years. There’s no telling whether the new Pro V1, sans the questionable patents will garner the same kind of enthusiasm as the old one.

The Pro V1 made its debut in October 2000. Billy Andrade won the ball’s first tournament that week.

Full story here.

2 thoughts on “Golf Patent Shocker”

  1. How much is technology, and how much is psychology?  I have to think that at least 20% of the performance of the ProV1 is the psychology of playing with that premiere product.  But if the playing characteristics change somewhat, whether it is due to the technology changing (for better or for worse) – or because of a psychological change of expecting a change, this could rattle more than a little of the sales off the ball. 

    For me, playing with a ProV1 is MUCH more dependant on the psychology.  Do I actually get the technological benefit?  I don’t think I really do, I think it is probably more in line with what my Sabona magnetic bracelet does, it is a psychological crutch with helps me think things are better than they are.  I do REALLY believe that a ProV1 will last longer than most of the cheaper balls, – I have played 38 holes on a found ProV1 and it still looked very good- but maybe a Nike superfly will play like that too, but I don’t go looking for that Nike Superfly when it goes awry or dribbles in the lake, I do go looking for that $4 ProV1. 

    The question for Titleist will be if the psychological effect of the change will affect people like me from buying the ball, or if the technological effect of the change will affect the scratch golfers from buying the ball, the net effect will be the same, and it could be dramatic.  In these times, Titleist does not need any players even trying balls that are other brands, or especially cheaper.  If the mid/high handicappers playing ProV1 now discover the game does not change significantly by switching to a cheaper ball, it will be hard to get those folks back to playing a $45 golf ball, especially in these times.  If they just change to one of the other brands, but like priced balls, it might be easier to get them back in the ProV1 fold at some point, but the short term effect will still be bad. 

    It would be interesting to watch the market changes for all the balls during this time.

  2. You’re absolutely right on that one, Martin. It HAS to be as much mental as anything. I know plenty of people who play the Pro V1 who have no business doing so—their swing speeds aren’t high enough to take advantage of the ball’s characteristics.

    And if its mental, any perceived change will have an effect on sales.


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