Acushnet has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Massachusetts against TaylorMade-adidas Golf and Camilo Villegas.
Villegas, the 28-year-old Colombian star, had been playing Cobra golf clubs, wearing FootJoy shoes and playing the Titleist ProV1, but TaylorMade announced this week that Villegas was switching to its products. Acushnet claims in its suit that Villegas is still under contract with Acushnet, and that TaylorMade "intentionally interfered with Villegas’ current contract nearly five months before the end of its term." In March, Acushnet sold the Cobra brand to Puma.
The suit seeks a preliminary injunction that would prevent Villegas and TaylorMade from speaking about the new deal, as well as damages.
The complete release from Acushnet is below:
Fairhaven, MA (August 5, 2010) – Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO), and manufacturer of Titleist, the #1 ball in golf, and FootJoy, the #1 shoe and glove in golf, filed suit today in Superior Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts against TaylorMade-adidas Golf (TMaG) and professional golfer Camilo Villegas. Acushnet Company is seeking a preliminary injunction against TMaG and Villegas regarding any future comments pertaining to a potential future relationship between them. Villegas, ranked No. 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is exclusively under contract with Acushnet to play the company's Titleist Pro V1 golf ball, and wear FootJoy golf shoes and gloves, and is prominently featured in the advertising and promotion of those products. The suit claims TMaG intentionally interfered with Villegas' current contract nearly five months before the end of its term. Acushnet will seek damages in addition to injunctive relief.
In a press release distributed on August 3, TaylorMade's president and CEO announced that Villegas will join the TMaG tour staff beginning in 2011, and stated that more information will be revealed on September 9, 2010. It further noted that Villegas will join "other members of the renowned TaylorMade Tour Staff," including Kenny Perry and Mike Weir, both of whom are under contract with Acushnet Company to play Titleist golf balls and wear Titleist or FootJoy golf gloves.
"It is unconscionable that this competitor would interfere with a player's contract by publicly announcing its intentions with that player during his contract term with another company," said Joe Nauman, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Legal, Acushnet Company. "The timing of TMaG's press release was obviously calculated to harm Acushnet Company and diminish the value of Camilo's endorsements. The behavior of TMaG and Camilo's agent is reprehensible, causing Acushnet Company irreparable and significant damage. Camilo is under contract with Acushnet Company through the end of the year and we expect the agreement to be honored throughout the term. We fully expect the Court to act quickly in granting the preliminary injunction and providing the other relief being sought."