Bridgestone Sports Co., Ltd., and its wholly owned subsidiary, Bridgestone Golf, Inc., has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the Acushnet Company in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Bridgestone Sports is currently the leading golf ball manufacturer in Japan with a 40% share of that market m while Acushnet leads in the US golf ball market and everywhere else.
Acushnet Company, manufacturer of Titleist® and Pinnacle® brand golf balls, strongly denies the allegations by Bridgestone Sports and says that it is disappointed that Bridgestone Sports and its subsidiary Bridgestone Golf “have chosen to attempt to compete via press release and litigation.”
In the complaint, Bridgestone Sports charges Acushnet with wilful infringement of ten United States patents from Bridgestone Sports‘ extensive patent portfolio covering multi-piece solid core golf ball technology. Among the Acushnet balls charged with infringement are: Titleist® Pro V1™ the Titleist® Pro V1x™, the Titleist® NXT™, Titleist® NXT Tour, the Titleist® DT SoLo, and the Pinnacle® Exception™ golf balls.
Bridgestone Sports is seeking an injunction against Acushnet from infringing upon the company’s patents and for unspecified compensation for damages that “have occurred as a result of past infringement.” In addition, Bridgestone Sports seeks a declaratory judgment of non-infringement with respect to four United States patents owned by Acushnet.
“During the course of several months of negotiations with Acushnet, we attempted to settle this dispute; however, when negotiations failed, Acushnet left us with no other course of action, but to file suit,” said Mr. Kawano, president, Bridgestone Sports Co., Ltd. “We remain hopeful that this matter can be settled, but in the meantime, we must protect our intellectual property rights. We will do so passionately and we are committed to see this matter to the end, in order to properly remedy the infringement.”
The Acushnet Company states that as the worldwide market leader in golf ball sales and in patenting new golf ball technology, Acushnet takes intellectual property matters very seriously. As such, Acushnet respects the valid intellectual property of all its competitors and expects the same in return.
“We have been discussing patent issues with Bridgestone for well over a year,” said Joseph Nauman, senior vice president and general counsel, Acushnet Company. “We had hoped to amicably resolve these issues and had recently provided Bridgestone with further information in support of our position. However, rather than address that information in private dialogue, Bridgestone has chosen to make this matter public and to litigate.
“We believe Bridgestone infringes the Acushnet patents cited in its complaint and strongly deny that Acushnet infringes any valid Bridgestone patent. Acushnet will vigorously defend itself in this action and will fully pursue the protection of its intellectual property.”
Bridgestone Sports, together with its US subsidiary, Bridgestone Golf, Inc., located in Covington, Georgia, develops, manufactures and sells premium golf products, including Bridgestone Golf™, Precept® and TourStage® golf balls. Bridgestone Golf, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Sports Co. Ltd., whose headquarters are in Tokyo.
Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra comprise the major golf brands of the Acushnet Company, an operating company of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE – FO). Titleist, Cobra, FootJoy and Pinnacle are trademarks owned by Acushnet Company.
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