There are news reports that the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball is on the verge of being banned.
But if you are one of the many who hold the Titleist Pro V1’s dear, don’t panic. Reports of their demise appear premature.
It all revolves around a long running dispute with Callaway over alleged infringement of technology patents.
A report published on the Sydney Morning Herald website today (and similar in The Age) states:
“THE golf ball used by many of the world’s best professional players and millions of amateurs is on the verge of being banned.
The Titleist Pro V1 ball, used by the likes of Australians Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy, will disappear in its current form from next year after Callaway, a fierce rival of Titleist in the top-end golf market, won a lawsuit in the United States.
The original case went Callaway’s way in December 2007; yesterday, the District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, rejected an appeal by Acushnet, manufacturer of Titleist products, and granted a “permanent injunction” stopping the manufacture of the balls.
Callaway claimed that Titleist infringed its patent on the technology used in production of its HX brand balls when it began making Pro V1.”
However Titleist, in the form of the parent organisation the Acushnet Company, has released the following public statement, which in part says the court “ruling will not have any impact on our ability to supply our customers with Pro V1 golf balls.”
Fairhaven, MA. — 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.”
With concerns about the fate of Titleist Pro V1 balls still circulating, Titleist has posted the following FAQ list. They would seem to confirm that whatever the outcome of any court decisions, Titleist Pro Vi balls will still be available on the shelves (and certianly for play in Australia). Titleist says it is always making modifications to the balls and has already done so in this case.
TITLEIST PRO V1 LITIGATION FACT SHEET
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Many questions have arisen in connection with the ongoing litigation between Acushnet Company and Callaway Golf regarding certain patents and Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls. To avoid any misunderstandings, below are some Frequently Asked Questions and Acushnet Company’s responses. Throughout this list, we refer to “Pro V1” golf balls. These responses apply equally to Pro V1x golf balls.
Can golfers play and purchase Titleist Pro V1 golf balls now?
Will golfers be able to play and purchase Titleist Pro V1 golf balls after January 1, 2009?
Is there a performance difference between the existing Pro V1 golf balls and the converted production models?
How can I distinguish between the existing Pro V1 golf balls and the converted models?
Does the converted product conform to USGA Rules?
Can Tour players play Titleist Pro V1 golf balls now and after January 1, 2009?
Will New 2009 Pro V1 and golf balls perform differently or be marked differently?
When can golfers play New 2009 Pro V1 golf balls?
Does Callaway use the technology in these patents in its golf balls?
Does the court ruling apply outside the United States?
What is this litigation about?
Litigation next steps