Nice work by David Dawsey at Golf-Patents.com to spot and analyze Kirkland golf ball-seller Costco's suit against Titleist-maker Acushnet.
Many thanks to all who sent various stories in, including the full pdf of the suit here.
Costco is seeking a declaratory judgment that it is not infringing any valid patent rights owned by Acushnet by its sale of its Kirkland Signature golf balls and that it has not engaged in false advertising regarding the golf balls. Why did they take such a provocative step? The complaint states “[t]he need for such relief exists because Acushnet has wrongfully accused Costco of patent infringement and false advertising.”
The paragraphs noted by Dawsey are worth checking out, but this seems to be the key point:
7. In response to the popularity of the KS golf ball, Acushnet sent Costco a threatening letter, wrongfully accusing Costco of infringing 11 Acushnet patents based on its sale of the KS golf ball and engaging in false advertising based on its Kirkland Signature guarantee that all Kirkland Signature products “meet or exceed the quality standards of leading national brands.”
WSJ's Brian Costa reported the story for Journal readers with this measured take, while MyGolfSpy.com, which fueled interest in the ball with its review, reveled in the news, noting that the timing may be no coincidence:
The legal wrangling comes at a time when sources are telling us that Costco is ready to begin shipping K-Sig balls to its retail stores. Coupled with the lawsuit, the clear suggestion is that, letters be damned, Costco is going to sell its golf balls and make Acushnet fight publicly to stop it.
It remains to be seen if the new ball is the same as the old one, with the USGA conforming list suggesting that a new version of the ball has been approved.