Titleist Sues Over Counterfeit Golf Balls

Crane’s Chicago Business reports that Titleist-Acushnet-Fortune Brands is sueing a company called Cam Golf, which it accuses of distributing counterfeit Pro V1s. Cam claims that it bought the balls from an internet auction site and had no idea that they were fake.

Cam Golf made the purchase online because its clients—mostly retailers and high school athletic departments—wanted Titleist balls, and Achushnet has excluded Cam Golf from its select group of authorized companies.

Titleist wants $5 million in damages from the company, which has $1.5 million in sales last year.

Hard to see how they’re going to squeeze blood from a turnip. And if Cam Golf’s story is true, then they are as much a victim as Titleist.

(Of course, if I were the suspicious type, I would say that this isn’t really about counterfeiting but about restriction of trade—Titleist keeping prices up by restricting the number of outlets that carry their product.  Suing a company for $5 million when it may have just accidentally bought some bad balls from a wholesaler doesn’t make much sense unless you’re trying to send a message to anyone else that might want to stray off the campus).

Titleist-Acushnet says that this is just part of a three year effort by Acushnet and other golf manufacturers to crack down on Chinese counterfeiters. China is infamous for failing to respect the intellectual property of people in other countries—you can easily get a pirated copy of last weekend’s hit movie in DVD format on the streets.

The Chinese government claims not to know anything about the counterfeiting, but that’s hard to believe. China is a totalitarian police state that is capable of carefully monitoring its people’s behavior and jails thousands for political dissent. They surely know what the factories within their borders are up to.

If Acushnet really wants to put an end to the counterfeiting, they need to get the Chinese government to cooperate.

And barring that, they need to figure out a way to make it easy for people to tell whether a Pro V1 is real. I don’t play the ball, so if it’s white and says Pro V1, then I’m pretty much going to assume that its a Pro V1.

Maybe they should float a hologram in the cover, or insert something in the core that triggers a sensor. Or something.

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