New development in Acushnet-Callaway dispute

In the yet unresolved patent litigation being waged between Acushnet Co. and Callaway Golf, a new development has surfaced.

Acushnet issued a statement March 10, saying it has received affirmation that claims of four Callaway Golf patents are invalid; Acushnet says such a determination aids its argument in the litigation that originated more than five years ago.

In February 2006, Callaway filed a lawsuit asserting that Acushnet’s Titleist Pro V1 golf balls infringed certain claims of those 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.

The patent dispute, however, returned to the courts following a Callaway motion “to vacate the jury decision from March 2010,” according to a Callaway spokesman. He added that motion is pending. Meanwhile, Acushnet had requested the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine the four patents. The company announced that the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences affirmed the patent examiner’s decision that Callaway patents are invalid.

In a statement, Joe Nauman, Acushnet Co.’s executive vice president, corporate and legal, said: “Acushnet has always maintained that these patents are invalid and should never have been issued. The Board of Patent Appeals’ decision is one significant step closer to having that view finally and permanently confirmed by the court system.”

Tim Buckman, Callaway's senior director of global communications, responded in a statement: “We believe the Patent Office got the decision wrong and did not have the authority to decide the validity of the patents. . . . If necessary, we will appeal the decision to the Federal Circuit. The validity of the patents is currently being considered independently in the only appropriate forum, the federal court in Delaware, so the decision from the Patent Office does not end the case.”

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