2001: Callaway: Maxfli A10 infringes

Callaway Golf Go. confirmed Oct. 4 that it has filed a suit against Dunlop Slazenger Group Americas Inc., alleging that its Maxfli A10 ball infringes upon one of Callaway’s patents.

DSGA, based in Greenville, S.C., immediately issued a rebuttal saying that it “emphatically denies the unfounded allegations contained in proceedings . . . filed in Delaware by Callaway Golf.”

According to Larry Dorman, Callaway’s chief spokesman, the Maxfli A10 ball infringes on U.S. patent No. 6,213,898 – one of 42 patents issued to Callaway’s ball subsidiary. Broadly speaking, Dorman said the patent covers Callaway’s “thermoset cast urethane cover and dimple patterns” used in the Rule 35 and the new CTU 30 balls.

“It essentially deals with aerodynamic properties that involve low drag at high speeds and high lift at slow speeds,” Dorman said. “The less drag, the longer and faster a ball will go. And high lift at slow speeds is a great aerodynamic feature for golfers with slow swing speeds.”

DSGA’s statement, however, disputed Callaway’s allegations and maintained that the A10 was developed with its own proprietary research. DSGA officials were not available for comment.

The company statement said the A10 “. . . has been developed by DSGA research and development over the past two years and builds upon proven and patented technology as well as trade secrets nurtured in our research and development facility.

“DSGA intends to vigorously defend any proceedings that may be served upon it and is satisfied that the outcome will be to completely vindicate the company’s position.”

Nevertheless, the Callaway suit could drag DSGA into another legal imbroglio – just 14 months after settling a similar ball technology suit filed against it by Acushnet Co.

In that case, Acushnet, which makes Titleist golf balls, alleged that core and cover technology used in DSGA products infringed upon Acushnet’s patents. The suit ultimately was dismissed in August 2000 after Maxfli paid an undisclosed amount to Acushnet and, separately, entered into a licensing agreement to use “Acushnet urethane process patents for the molding of covers on golf balls,” according to Joe Nauman, Acushnet’s senior vice president and general counsel.

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