Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by. We've had lots of email asking about the Pro V1 ruling and lots of people have questions. Titleist Golf has issued a FAQ sheet that answers some of the most important questions and gives us some insight into the 2009 Pro V1 golf ball.
Many questions have arisen in connection with the ongoing litigation between Acushnet Company and Callaway Golf regarding certain patents and Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls. To avoid any misunderstandings, below are some Frequently Asked Questions and Acushnet Company’s responses. Throughout this list, we refer to “Pro V1” golf balls. These responses apply equally to Pro V1x golf balls.
What is this litigation about?
Titleist introduced the Pro V1 golf ball, based on its own technological advancements and research, in 2000. Pro V1 golf balls incorporate the combination of many Titleist technologies developed and accumulated over the past 20 years. Acushnet Company is the golf ball industry technology leader, with over 650 active golf ball patents – more than any other manufacturer. Over 65 of these patents cover the Pro V1 family.
Spalding received 4 patents in 2001 and 2003, well after the Pro V1 was developed and introduced. Callaway acquired these patents when they purchased Spalding in 2003. We believe these patents are invalid and should never have been issued in the first place. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agrees with Acushnet. It has reexamined the patents and issued final actions that all 4 of these patents are invalid and should never have been issued.
Callaway filed suit in 2006, claiming that our Pro V1 golf balls infringe these 4 patents. In 2007, a jury found partially in favor of Callaway and partially in favor of Acushnet.
We disagree with the trial court’s ruling, especially as the court did not permit the jury to consider very important evidence, including the fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued actions that all four patents are invalid. We believe that this resulted in the trial court coming to the wrong conclusion. We will appeal this case to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, who will consider this important evidence.
Callaway asked the lower court for an order stopping Acushnet from selling golf balls covered by the patents. We believe that this was inappropriate for several reasons, including the jury’s “split decision”, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s actions that all 4 patents are invalid, Callaway’s years’ long delay in bringing suit, and the fact that Callaway does not use these patents. The lower court ruled that Acushnet may not sell Pro V1 golf balls covered by the patents after January 1, 2009.
Litigation next steps
Acushnet will ask the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to put the injunction on hold while the appeal is decided. We believe we have a very strong basis for that request, including the fact that the appeals court will consider the patent office decisions rejecting the four patents. If our request is granted, the injunction will not come into effect.
Can golfers play and purchase Titleist Pro V1 golf balls now?
Yes. Golfers can play and purchase Titleist Pro V1 golf balls with confidence. All Pro V1 golf balls (those golfers might already own and any new purchases) conform to USGA rules and are legal for play and purchase.
Can Golf Shops sell Titleist Pro V1 golf balls between now and January 1, 2009?
Yes. Golf Shops can sell existing inventory of Pro V1 golf balls and order additional supplies.
Will golfers be able to play and purchase Titleist Pro V1 golf balls after January 1, 2009?
Yes. The recent court order will not impact our ability to supply Golf Shops with Pro V1 golf balls. In September 2008, we converted production of the existing Pro V1 models so that they are outside the scope of the patents in question. Golf Shops can continue to order and take delivery of Pro V1 golf balls now and after January 1, 2009 and golfers can continue to play with and purchase Pro V1 with confidence.
Is there a performance difference between the existing Pro V1 golf balls and the converted production models?
No. While a number of changes in the manufacturing process were required to address the patent issues, performance and quality are indistinguishable from the current products and the converted products have been Tour validated.
How can I distinguish between the existing Pro V1 golf balls and the converted models?
Converted Pro V1 models have the same packaging and sidestamps as the existing models. However, there is a small red or black circular sticker or marking on every Pro V1 dozen box and sleeve to identify the converted production.
Does the converted product conform to USGA Rules?
Yes. Titleist Pro V1 golf balls have always conformed to USGA Rules and these products are no exception.
Can Golf Shops sell Titleist Pro V1 golf balls after January 1, 2009?
Yes. Titleist will continue to offer converted Pro V1 products after January 1, 2009 and will introduce new Pro V1 products in the first quarter of 2009.
Callaway and Acushnet disagree with respect to the scope of the court’s order regarding the Pro V1 golf balls that are covered by the Callaway patents and that remain in retail inventory after January 1, 2009. Callaway has expressed its position in a letter to the trade dated November 14, 2008. We disagree with Callaway’s position. We believe that the court order does not require the removal of any Pro V1 products that may be on retail shelves on January 1, 2009. However, the order may be read to prevent Acushnet from providing advice to its customers on this issue. We are providing a copy of the order to our customers so that they can reach their own conclusion on this issue. This issue may get decided by the court. If the court determines that Golf Shops may not sell Pro V1 golf balls covered by the patents after January 1, 2009, Acushnet will accept returns of that existing inventory and will replace it with Pro V1 golf balls that are outside the claims of the patents.
Can Tour players play Titleist Pro V1 golf balls now and after January 1, 2009?
Yes. Tour players can play Titleist Pro V1 golf balls with confidence. Pro V1 is and will remain available to all Titleist golf ball players on the worldwide professional tours and can be played both before and after January 1, 2009. If the injunction is not put on hold, Tour events in the United States will be supplied with converted current product or 2009 product.
Will New 2009 Pro V1 and golf balls perform
differently or be marked differently?
As Titleist has always done throughout its 75 year history, we introduce new and improved golf balls when we have a better performing product. We introduced new Pro V1 products in 2003, 2005, 2007 and will introduce new products in 2009. The New 2009 Pro V1 models will perform differently from and better than the current Pro V1 models. Titleist has tested prototypes extensively with Tour players this fall and player feedback has been extremely favorable. Players on the worldwide professional tours can put the New 2009 Pro V1 models into competitive play when the Tours resume their schedules in January 2009. The New 2009 models will feature different sidestamps and packaging and appear as different listings on the USGA Conforming Ball List.
When can golfers play New 2009 Pro V1 golf balls?
Titleist will launch New 2009 Pro V1 golf balls in the 1st quarter of 2009. The technology and construction of New 2009 Pro V1 golf balls are outside the scope of the patents. In Q1 2009, golfers can learn about the exciting new product improvements via their local golf shop, on Titleist.com and in other Titleist advertising and communications.
Does Callaway use the technology in these patents in its golf balls?
Does the court ruling apply outside the United States?
No. The court ruling does not apply outside the United States.