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Home Acushnet Wins Judgment In Golf Ball Patent Case

The long and winding road between Callaway Golf (ELY: NYSE) and its golf ball patent dispute with the Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands (FO: NYSE) looks to be closer to an absolute final resolution.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware provided its final judgment today in Acushnet Company’s favor, in the long-running patent dispute with Callaway Golf. The judge denied Callaway’s request for a new trial and the case is officially closed in the U.S. District Court more than five years after Callaway Golf filed a lawsuit asserting that Acushnet Company’s Titleist Pro V1 golf balls infringed on four Callaway patents.

“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,” stated Joe Nauman, Executive Vice President Corporate and Legal, Acushnet Company. “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.”

The dispute began in January 2006 when Acushnet Company requested that the PTO reexamine the four patents in question. Callaway filed a lawsuit in February 2006 asserting that Acushnet’s Titleist Pro V1 golf balls infringed certain claims of those patents. In March 2010, a jury determined that all four patents were invalid as obvious and anticipated. Last month, the PTO affirmed the patent examiner’s decision that the claims of four Callaway Golf patents were invalid. Today, the judge upheld the jury verdict on obviousness and rejected Callaway's request for a new trial. Callaway has the option to appeal the case to the Federal Circuit.

The ball (pun intended) is now in Callaway’s court (pun again intended) as it must decided whether it wishes to continue this fight at the federal level in order to keep any hope alive with its ongoing contention that Acushnet breached the patents in question (one more pun) when it acquired Top-Flite out of bankruptcy. If it remains committed to the process in order to play this out to its entirety, Callaway appears to be facing significant headwinds in its efforts to be successful and it may have reached the point of questioning whether the financial resources may be best redeployed in other areas.