If being sued is no fun, then being sued for patent infringement can only be described as pure torture.
Not only is it very expensive to defend yourself in a patent infringement lawsuit, but it places a huge burden on a company’s key people, thereby distracting them from developing innovative new products. Depositions, discovery, and worst of all… dealing with attorneys!
Acushnet is currently defending not one, but two, multi-year golf ball patent infringement lawsuits. Just consider that one of the cases had 8 depositions scheduled to take place in March alone.
Success makes any company a potential target of patent infringement accusations, especially when it is estimated that your annual revenues associated with one line of golf balls is more than $200 million!
The older of the two cases was filed on March 7, 2005 by Bridgestone Sports Co Ltd. (1:05-cv-00132-JJF). In this case Bridgestone alleges that Acushnet infringes 10 of the Bridgestone golf ball patents, namely USPN’s 5252652, 5553852, 5695413, 5743817, 5782707, 5803834, 5813924, 6634961, 6679791, and 6780125.
Then, as if suing Acushnet for infringement of 10 patents wasn’t enough, Bridgestone also alleges that 4 of Acushnet’s patents are invalid, namely USPN’s 4729861, 4936587, 5080367, and 6729976. The Bridgestone case has now been going strong for over 2 years and has over 400 entries in the court’s docket!
Acushnet’s second fight involves a suit (1:06-cv-00091-SLR) filed by Callaway Golf on February 9, 2006 alleging that Acushnet infringed 4 patents. This case has roots all the way back to a previously settled 1996 lawsuit between Spalding and Acushnet. The case involves USPN’s 6210293, 6503156, 6506130, and 6595873. The Callaway case is also a very active case, as demonstrated by a court docket containing over 150 entries in little more than 1 year. Not to mention that there were 8 depositions scheduled to take place in March alone.
I will keep my eye on these two golf ball patent infringement cases and let you know of any interesting developments.
David Dawsey – The IP Golf Guy