March 2, 2009

New Twist In Ball Saga

The legal battle between Callaway and Acushnet has resulted in -- you guessed it -- more litigation

Just when you thought all that was left in the legal tussle between Callaway and Acushnet over golf-ball patents was for either Acushnet to win its appeal or for Callaway to win a damages verdict, another twist in this now three-plus year saga has taken place.

Call it dueling litigation. On March 3, Callaway filed suit in United States District Court for the District of Delaware claiming Titleist's new 2009 Pro V1 and Pro V1x also infringe on their patents. On the same day, Acushnet, in the same court, filed suit against Callaway asserting that Callaway's Tour i and Tour ix golf balls infringe nine Acushnet patents covering multi-piece, solid core technology. Acushnet also claimed Callaway's latest suit is based on claims "without merit."

Late last year, Callaway won a permanent injunction halting sales of earlier versions of the Pro V1 family of golf balls, effective January 1, 2009. Acushnet, however, tweaked the composition of its golf balls last September so that, in Acushnet's opinion, they were outside the scope of the patents in question. The company also said its 2009 line of Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls were outside the patents as well.

In an industry where lawsuits rarely reach this point, this one appears likely to go the distance.