Spalding Sports Worldwide has sued Wilson Sporting Goods in federal district court in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA for false advertising. Spalding’s lawsuit asks the court to immediately stop Wilson from making advertising claims that its Wilson Staff® True golf balls putt truer than competitive balls, including Spalding’s STRATA TOUR ULTIMATE 2 balls.
Wilson unveiled its new golf balls at the January 2002 International PGA Golf Show in Orlando, Florida and its advertising campaign in last week’s Golfweek. Wilson claims that its golf balls are “balanced,” and therefore putt truer, whereas those of its competitors are not. To support its claims, Wilson used a putting test employing methodology that Spalding says is fundamentally flawed.
“Wilson’s test methodology bears no relationship to the real world,” stated Jim Craigie, Spalding’s president and chief executive officer. “In a properly conducted putting test that replicates consumer behaviour, golf balls are randomly aligned and then mechanically putted on a surface that replicates a grass putting green. In order to fix the test in its favour, Wilson’s test included three abnormal behaviours. First, it put the competitive golf balls in a solution of salt and lubricant. Second, it aligned only the competitive balls in a particular manner versus a random alignment of the Wilson balls. Finally, the golf balls were putted on a surface that was more like a pool table than a grass putting green. Wilson should be ashamed of itself for using such shoddy test methodology to try to fool golfers into buying its products.”
“Wilson’s claims are false and misleading, as well as damaging to both Spalding’s reputation and the consumer, and we will prove that in court,” continued Craigie. “Spalding ensures the quality and consistency of its golf balls, and maintains its reputation for excellent products through the use of state-of-the-art manufacturing and quality control techniques. Spalding balls are tested extensively to ensure centred cores, consistent cover thickness, and other uniform qualities. Our tour professionals feel putting is one of the strongest attributes of the STRATA ball, and their results have proven it. Len Mattiace’s recent victory in the Nissan Open is evidence that our STRATA ball putts true. Mattiace averaged 26.5 putts per round during the tournament, ranking 15th in putting among the field of 144 golfers, and he sank several putts of more than 20 feet, including one of over 80 feet, to win the tournament. Bernhard Langer switched to STRATA last year and finished 8th overall in putting on the PGA Tour. In contrast to STRATA’s proven results on the professional tour, to our knowledge, not even one golfer on the pro tour is using the Wilson Staff True golf ball.”
Spalding Sports Worldwide is the nation’s first full-line sporting goods company. Its leadership and innovative products have led to revolutionary breakthroughs in virtually every major sporting goods product category. Under the Spalding umbrella are the Strata, Top-Flite, Etonic, Ben Hogan and Dudley brands.