Driffield Golf Club in East Yorkshire (“the club”) has negotiated an out of court settlement with Richard Allen, CEO of EcoBunker Ltd and the inventor of the patented stacked synthetic grass revetting system.
The club accepted it had used its own supply of waste synthetic grass, and copied the construction method after viewing an article in the trade press in 2015. In doing so, it unknowingly infringed various elements of intellectual property, principally the patent. Justifiably proud of the results, the club posted photographs and news of its bunker reconstruction work on social media and it was via Facebook that the patent infringement was discovered.
“Despite the fact that EcoBunker’s system has been patented for many years now, we still get many surprised looks when we provide the plain evidence,” explained Allen. “Perhaps this is a reaction to the sheer simplicity of the system. But then again, some of the best inventions are very simple, and in our case, after conducting three years of intensive due diligence the UK Patent Office decided that the system ticked all the boxes required of a patent.”
After examining the patent, the specialist legal firm engaged by the club advised its client of the validity and strength of the intellectual property (which also includes a design registration) and encouraged them to negotiate a settlement.
Why decide to enforce patent rights? Allen cites the main reason: “I knew that legal action would potentially be time consuming, stressful and with high powered lawyers involved, expensive too. However, ‘turning a blind eye’ was not an option, mainly because I felt strongly that by taking that route it would be highly disrespectful to our wide base of loyal clients who choose to comply with patent law.”
Peter Marshall, Chairman of Greens at Driffield Golf Club confirmed that the two parties had agreed a settlement involving an undisclosed sum. Marshall commented: “It came as a huge shock to the club to be made aware of the patent. The club would never knowingly do anything illegal but after consulting with legal specialists the validity of the patent was confirmed. However, we found relief when the negotiations with Richard were conducted in a mature and professional manner and the club feels that a very fair outcome has been achieved for both parties.”
The club will continue to re-develop its bunkers using the patented technology, but from now on, will be working in partnership with EcoBunker Ltd. ‘It was undoubtedly a tricky situation to resolve, but we respect the stance taken by Richard, and based upon the way the situation was managed, we would thoroughly recommend Richard and EcoBunker Ltd. We are looking forward to working closely with Richard and EcoBunker Ltd in the on-going development and further improvement of Driffield Golf Club which is already an excellent parkland course,” concluded Marshall.
Pictured top: Driffield Golf Club Green with Greens Chairman Peter Marsh
Driffield Golf Club http://www.driffieldgolfclub.co.uk/