Acushnet is initiating a program to help golf retailers exchange Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls that were manufactured with the technology at the heart of Callaway's patent lawsuit against the company. Acushnet is asking retailers to return Pro V1 models produced before September 2008 in exchange for newer "converted" balls.
This is the latest development in a long-running patent dispute between the two companies. Acushnet says that the newest Pro V1 models were "converted in September to be outside the patents at issue," so an injunction won by Callaway to stop sales of Pro V1 balls only applies to the older models. The newer converted models have a black or red circle on the dozen box and sleeves, as seen in the image above left.
In December 2007, a jury ruled that Acushnet had infringed on multiple Callaway patents with the Pro V1 ball. After that decision, Callaway filed a motion to halt the production and sale of the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls, and Acushnet sought a new trial. In November of this year, a trial court denied Acushnet's motion and granted the injunction, to be effective Jan. 1, 2009. Acushnet then requested a stay of the injunction, which was also denied.
Although Acushnet is complying with the injunction, the company still denies that the Pro V1 ever infringed on Callaway patents and is continuing the appeal process.
"We have made every possible effort to ensure that this legal dispute did not find its way into the golf marketplace," Wally Uihlein, chairman and chief executive officer of Acushnet, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, our attempts to resolve the difference of opinion on the retail inventory issue with Callaway have been unsuccessful. As a result, we decided that it is critical to remove this uncertainty for golf retailers and minimize any impact on their business, particularly during these already challenging times."
The complete statement from Titleist is available here.