Acushnet wins golf ball suit after 4 years

THE ACUSHNET CO. won what may be the final round in a patent-infringement suit that was first brought by its rival, Callaway Golf, back in 2006.
Posted 3/30/10

FAIRHAVEN – The Acushnet Co. won a court victory Monday in its long-running patent dispute with Callaway Golf Co. over Acushnet’s Titleist Pro V1 line of multilayered golf balls.

A federal jury ruled Callaway’s patents invalid, turning down the company’s request for $246 million in damages from Acushnet, following a retrial in Wilmington, Del., Bloomberg News reported.

“We are extremely pleased with the court’s decision, and we hope that this finally brings this long-standing dispute to a close,” said Joe Nauman, executive vice president of corporate and legal at Acushnet, a division of Fortune Brands Inc.

Steve McCracken, Callaway’s chief administrative officer, said the company was “disappointed” with the outcome. “We plan to file a motion with the court to set aside the verdict,” he said.

Carlsbad, Calif.-based Callaway, maker of Big Bertha golf clubs, first filed the patent suit against Acushnet in 2006. Acushnet responded by contending that the rival company’s patents were not valid, but the company lost at trial the following year.

In December 2008, a judge ordered Fairhaven-based Acushnet to stop selling the Pro V1 line in question. The company responded by redesigning the Pro V1 to work around the patents, but Callaway sued over the new models in March 2009. Acushnet then filed its own patent suit against Callaway.

Last August, an appeals court tossed out the 2007 jury verdict against Acushnet, setting the stage for the retrial that ended in Acushnet’s favor on Monday.

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