While all attention in the golf world this week is focused on The Masters and Augusta, Costco and Acushnet are in a fight of their own in U.S. District Court.
Last year, Costco released its Kirkland Signature golf ball at a price of about $15/dozen, and the ball received rave reviews for its value and play. Some reported that it was comparable to Acushnet’s Titleist Pro V1 which retails for around $48/dozen, and Costco quickly ran out of inventory.
Not taking this threat lightly, Acushnet sent a threatening letter to Costco claiming infringement of eleven patents and for false advertising based on Costco’s guarantee that Kirkland Signature products “meet or exceed the quality standards of leading national brands.” The asserted patents include claims related to core hardness (U.S. Pat. No. 6,994,638), various coefficients of restitution between the ball layers (U.S. Pat. No. 7,331,878), and the amount of dimple coverage (U.S. Pat. No. 6,358,161).
Last month, Costco filed suit in response seeking a declaration from the Court that the patents are invalid, and there is no infringement or false advertising.
Neither company has been known to back away from a fight so, while not as interesting to most as the Masters, it should be something to watch.
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