Judge rules in Acushnet’s favor in patent suit

Acushnet Co. declared a victory in its long-running, ball-patent dispute with Callaway Golf, following a federal court judge’s decision denying Callaway’s request for a new trial.

The decision was the latest development in a lawsuit that originated more than five years ago.

In February 2006, Callaway filed a lawsuit asserting that Acushnet’s Titleist Pro V1 golf balls infringed four of its patents. That led to a jury trial, which in 2007 ruled primarily in Callaway’s favor. But Acushnet appealed and won a new trial.

In March 2010, the second trial took place in U.S. District Court in Delaware, and its jury determined that the four patents were invalid. Acushnet officials had long maintained that the patents were invalid and never should have been issued.

The dispute, however, returned to the courts following a Callaway motion to vacate the jury decision from March 2010. But on April 21 a judge from the U.S. District Court in Delaware upheld the jury verdict and rejected Callaway’s request for a new trial.

“Today’s positive ruling substantiates what our contention has been throughout this process, that the patents in question were invalid and should never have been issued,” said Joe Nauman, Acushnet’s executive vice president corporate and legal, in a statement. “We had confidence that once we had the opportunity to present all the evidence, and as we continued to receive favorable rulings from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO), we would prevail. The confirmation by the U.S. District Court is another significant step in finalizing this case.”

Tim Buckman, Callaway’s senior director of global communications, responded: “We are disappointed with the Court’s decision, especially in light of our victory in the first trial and Acushnet’s admitted infringement of our patents. We will appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.”

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