New trial for Callaway vs. Acushnet

A federal appeals court reversed a ruling favoring Callaway in its patent-infringement suit against Acushnet Co., maker of Titleist golf balls, sending the case back to the lower court for a new trial.

In the original case, the U.S. District Court in Delaware ruled that Titleist Pro V1 golf balls infringed on some Callaway patents. Acushnet officials have disputed that allegation and maintained that the four Callaway patents in question are invalid.

On Aug. 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned the original judgment, saying there were genuine issues of fact that needed to be reconsidered. The appeals court also stated the jury’s verdicts were “irreconcilably inconsistent” because jurors found one patent claim invalid but determined other similar claims were valid.

The trial court also erred, according to the three-judge appellate panel, in not allowing certain evidence that supported Acushnet’s defense.

Joe Nauman, Acushnet’s executive vice president, corporate and legal, said the “ruling affirms our contention that we were not allowed to argue our full case before the jury and that the resulting verdict was inconsistent and not sustainable.”

In addition, he said, “our confidence is bolstered by the fact that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has now issued final re-examination decisions holding that all claims of all four patents are invalid.”

Meanwhile, Callaway issued a statement saying the Carlsbad, Calif., equipment company “is confident that it will prevail, and looks forward to presenting its claim for damages.”

The appeals court also lifted an injunction that prohibited Acushnet from selling Pro V1 products that used the patents in question.

In March, the two companies filed additional suits against each other: Callaway alleges Pro V1 products still infringe on some of its patents; Acushnet says Callaway Tour i golf balls infringe on its intellectual property.

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