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Golf Goes To Court ... Again ... Swinging and Backswinging

The only effective way to get value from a patent is to enforce it.  Callaway Golf lives that adage time and again, this time pursuing rival TaylorMade Golf for allegedly violating several of its patents, both on golf balls and golf clubs.  Callaway filed the golf club head suit in patent-plaintiff-friendly Marshall, Texas and on the golf ball in San Diego, of all places (both companies are from Carlsbad). 

According to the IP Golf Guy, the two suits were filed within five days of each other last week.  He's got the entire California complaint on his website, if you're interested, along with links to several previous Callaway suits, including ones filed against Acushnet.  In the club head suit, Callaway sued over its patented "Golf Club Head with Audible Vibration Attenuation."   According to Callaway, the club head has a structure on the front wall that decreases audible vibration when a golf ball is struck. 

I don't know about that.  I kind of like that "whack" sound when the club hits the ball, even if the ball goes farther without it.  The other suit involves a TaylorMade polyurethane golf ball cover that supposedly produces a softer feel and increased ball spin. 

You can expect a TaylorMade backswing:  an LA Times article by Molly Selvin quotes "TaylorMade spokesman Scott Leightman [who] said:  'We feel good about our case against their allegations. . . . There are two sides to the story.'  TaylorMade executives believe 'many currently available Callaway drivers infringe on several TaylorMade patents covering industry-leading metal wood technologies,' Leightman said, adding that the company had not gone to court against Callaway."

Big business Callaway golf reports income last year of just over a billion dollars.  A division of Adidas, TaylorMade's income will likely hit one and a half times that of Callaway. 

It's a game, but in Court, this game translates into dollars for Callaway and for euros TaylorMade, along with some pretty serious bragging rights about who makes the best club and the best ball. 

Don't look at me.  My only tournament golf trophy is for the highest score.  I must have misunderstood the scoring system.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, August 11, 2007

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