Fairhaven, MA (December 23, 2008) — Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO), announced that it will move forward with the appeals process following denial of its request for a stay of an injunction regarding certain Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. The company announced that it does not expect today’s ruling or the injunction, scheduled to take effect January 1, 2009, to have a material adverse impact on its results and reaffirmed its confidence that it will ultimately win its appeal of the verdict in the underlying patent dispute.
“This decision will not interfere with Titleist’s ability to continue to manufacture, distribute and sell Pro V1 golf balls,” said Joe Nauman, executive vice president, corporate and legal of Acushnet. “While the stay was not granted, we understand that it was a request for extraordinary relief based upon a limited review.”
In September, well in advance of the District Court’s injunction decision, the production of existing Pro V1 model golf balls was converted to be outside the patents in question. As of January 1, 2009, there will be limited amounts of non-converted Pro V1 golf balls in retail inventory. “Acushnet does not believe that the injunction order requires Acushnet to recall any Pro V1 golf balls from retailers, or that retailers are required to return any golf balls to Acushnet,” continued Nauman. “However, Acushnet is prepared to accept returns of non-converted retail inventory if requested by retailers.”
On November 10, 2008, the U.S. District Court in Delaware granted Callaway Golf’s request for an injunction in a dispute with respect to four Callaway patents and Acushnet’s Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. Acushnet strongly disagreed with the judge’s ruling and filed an appeal on November 19, 2008, to seek relief from the injunction, and to appeal the district court actions and other of the court’s decisions. Although the stay was not granted, the Appeals Court will next review these complex issues in far greater detail and will likely render a decision sometime late in 2009.
“We firmly believe in our position and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously in the appeal process,” Nauman added. “We expect to prevail in having all claims of all four patents at issue determined to be invalid once the appeal is fully briefed and argued. Our confidence is underpinned by the fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued final office actions which have determined these patents to be invalid.”
Acushnet is the industry leader in developing golf ball technology and has over 650 active golf ball patents – more than any other manufacturer. Titleist Pro V1 golf balls are the product of technology developed and accumulated by the Acushnet Company over the past 20 years, and over 65 Acushnet Company patents are related to the Pro V1 family.