Lawsuits filed over TMAG-Villegas deal

Camilo Villegas

Camilo Villegas

TaylorMade-Adidas Golf’s freshly inked endorsement deal with Camilo Villegas isn’t scheduled to take effect until 2011, but it’s already causing a legal ruckus.

The PGA Tour player’s newest sponsor announced the agreement Aug. 3 – with Villegas still under contract for nearly another five months to promote the products of its rivals, the Acushnet Co. and Cobra Golf.

The result? Two lawsuits each for TMAG and Villegas.

Acushnet, the parent of Titleist and FootJoy, filed suit Aug. 5 seeking a preliminary injunction prohibiting the two parties from commenting about their upcoming partnership. On Aug. 9, Cobra announced it had taken similar legal action against the two defendants.

TMAG issued a news release saying Villegas would join its tour staff beginning in 2011 and endorse the company’s products, including TaylorMade clubs, ball and glove and Adidas footwear. Villegas, however, remains under contract with Acushnet to play the Titleist Pro V1 ball and wear FootJoy shoes and gloves. He’s prominently featured in the advertising of both brands. Likewise, Cobra touts Villegas, a Colombian who uses the company’s clubs, as one of its marquee endorsers.

The suits – filed in Massachusetts Superior Court – allege TMAG of intentional interference. Acushnet and Cobra also are seeking damages, but financial amounts were not specified.

A TMAG spokesperson and Villegas’ agent declined to comment.

Acushnet alleges the defendants’ actions undermine its contract with Villegas, which began Jan. 1, 2008, and ends Dec. 31, according to the suit. Financial terms, including performance incentives, were not disclosed.

“The timing of TMAG’s press release was obviously calculated to harm Acushnet Company and diminish the value of Camilo’s endorsements,” said Joe Nauman, Acushnet’s executive vice president, corporate and legal, in a statement. “The behavior of TMAG and Camilo’s agent is reprehensible, causing Acushnet Company irreparable and significant damage. Camilo is under contract with Acushnet Company through the end of the year and we expect the agreement to be honored throughout the term.”

Said Bob Philion, president of Cobra-Puma Golf: “Camilo is under contract to Cobra Golf until the end of 2010 and we object to a competitor announcing its intentions to work with Camilo during his contract term with Cobra Golf.”

Puma AG, the parent of Cobra Golf, is not involved in the legal case.  

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