Recently Callaway celebrated a minor victory in their long-running legal battle with Titleist over patents related to the manufacturing process used to create Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls. A few weeks back, Titleist celebrated their own small victory when the U.S. Patent Office ruled the four applicable patents invalid.
Despite the now invalid patents, a Delaware judge recently granted Callaway a permanent injunction against Titleist for the sale and distribution of Pro V1 golf balls manufactured under the patents in dispute in the U.S.
However, Titleist quickly responded to point out that since September, they’d shifted their manufacturing process to a new one clear of these patents, and that production, distribution, and sale of Pro V1 and Pro V1x will not be hindered. This shift in manufacturing has been planned for quite some time and is not the result of the lawsuit. Please see paragraph two of Titleist’s official response (below) for more on that. If you were wondering whether there would be new Pro V1s in 2009, you’ll also want to read the response.
For those deeply interested – or for those who are as confused as I am about how what are now invalid patents can be used to form an injunction – I recommend you check out David Dawsey’s golf-patents.com in the coming weeks.
Titleist’s Official Statement
The green text below is Titleist’s official statement (emphasis added):
Fairhaven, MA (November 10, 2008) — Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO), announced that it will file an appeal of today’s ruling in a U.S. District Court in Delaware granting Callaway Golf’s request for an injunction in the long-running dispute with respect to four Callaway patents and Acushnet’s Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. The company also announced that it does not expect the ruling to have a material adverse impact on its results.
“We strongly disagree with the judge’s ruling and will file an appeal and seek relief from the injunction,” said Joe Nauman, executive vice president, corporate and legal of Acushnet. “However, it’s important to recognize that this ruling will not have any impact on our ability to supply our customers with Pro V1 golf balls because of the following actions which we have undertaken. In September 2008, we converted production of the existing Pro V1 models so that they are outside of the patents in question; and we have also developed and will be introducing new and improved Titleist Pro V1 products in the first quarter of 2009 that are also outside the scope of the patents in question.
“Our Pro V1 golf balls are the product of technology developed and accumulated by the Acushnet Company over the past 20 years,” Nauman continued. “Acushnet is the industry leader in developing golf ball technology and has over 650 active golf ball patents – more than any other manufacturer. Over 65 of these patents are related to the Pro V1 family.
“We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously and we fully expect to prevail in having all claims of all four patents at issue determined to be invalid in the appeal process,” Nauman added. “Our confidence is underpinned by the fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued final office actions which have determined these patents to be invalid.”
Update: Titleist has posted an FAQ that sums everything up.