Thursday, May 20, 2010 - News: News - News: News

Jury finds Callaway Golf Ball Patents Invalid for Obviousness in Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Acushnet, the maker of Titleist Golf Balls

We are a bit late in our comment, but we are dealing here with a patent decision that truly matters - the jury invalidation for obviousness of four Callaway patents on golf ball technology. All the world's golfers, especially the users of Titleist Pro VI golf balls, can breathe a sigh of relief.

Ever since the LawPundit began playing golf, which is more than 50 years ago, Titleist golf balls, as made by Acushnet (now a part of Fortune Brands), have led the golf ball market. As written at the Wikipedia under Titleist:
"The Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x are the most used golf balls on the PGA Tour, European Tour, Japanese Tour, LPGA Tour, Asian Tour, and Nationwide Tour.
First played in the U.S. Open in 1949, Titleist golf balls are the top-selling golf balls in the United States.[1]"
So what was the Callaway patent claim? The Wikipedia tells the story:
"The [Titleist] Pro V1 made its debut on the PGA Tour at Las Vegas on October 11, 2000, the first week it was available to the pros. A longtime Titleist user, Billy Andrade, won that first tournament with the new ball. The Pro V1 was available to the public by December. The Pro V1 was a dramatic departure for Titleist, which had traditionally used a wound-ball construction (with a liquid-filled core center) for its top-of-the-line golf balls
In December 2007, Titleist lost a patent infringement suit brought by Callaway.[1] The following November, Callaway won an injunction in a Delaware court, ruling that sales of the Pro V1 golf balls should be stopped from January 1, 2009, with professionals being able to continue with their use until the end of the year. Acushnet immediately announced that they would be appealing against the decision.[2] Titleist has redesigned the Pro-V1 with a more durable shell and other minor changes that saved the acclaimed performance but differentiated the ball enough to continue distributing the ball without a concern of patent infringement. However, on August 14, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the judgment against Titleist and ordered a new trial.[3]"
See the Jolt Digest and the Slip Opinion in Callaway Golf Co. v. Acushnet Co., 2009-1076 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 14, 2009).

The jury in the subsequent trial in the case Callaway Golf Co. v. Acushnet Co., 06cv91 (SLR), U.S. District Court, Delaware (Wilmington) determined that the four patents in question -- 6,210,293, 6,503,156, 6,506,130 and 6,595,873 -- were obvious.

As written at the Los Angeles Times by Nathan Olivarez-Giles:
"Callaway had patented the use of multiple layers of different materials inside its golf balls, which Titleist contended was an obvious approach to construction."
The court order that Callaway had initially obtained against Acushnet to stop it from selling Titleist VI golf balls can now be ignored.

One thing is sure after this legal case - we will NEVER buy a Callaway product again. The place for golf ball manufacturers to win or lose customers is on the golf course, on the pro golf tours, in the golf pro shops and golf stores -- but not in patent court. This is especially true since the unnecessarily strict regulations of golf's ruling bodies on golf clubs and golf ball specifications make any real innovation in golf ball design unlikely. The balls must meet certain standards and limitations, so, beyond changing the number, size, shape and depth of dimples and playing around with the surface and interior layers, what's to invent? The "window of invention" allowed in golf has been rendered very small by the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.  Any really significant innovational change would make golf balls non-conforming.

Hat tip to at Court rules Callaway Golf patents invalid in patent infringement lawsuit against Acushnet.

Crossposted from LawPundit.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Tiger Woods withdraws from the Players Championship due to Pain from a possible Bulging Disk in his Back: Is his Current Golf Swing at Fault?

The Associated Press (AP) headlines that Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the Players Championship due to what might be a bulging disk in his back.

Could it be that Johnny Miller has it right that Woods should go back to his old swing of a decade ago? Or should he revamp his swing altogether?

Perhaps the current swing puts too much strain on his back.

Speaking for myself as a long hitter whose length of drives still rivals those of the pros, as I have gotten older (I am 63 now and was men's champion at my golf club at 61 3/4 years of age) I have had to change my swing in the course of time to reduce the pressure exerted on the back by the superfast rotation required to get the high club speed needed for superlong distance.

There are some tricks to do this but I am not divulging them here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Rory McIlroy Shoots a Closing 62 to Win 1st PGA Tournament

Rory McIlroy became the youngest player since Tiger Woods to win a PGA Tournament by shooting a closing 62 to beat Phil Mickelson.

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