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Cleveland Golf sues Callaway over use of ‘Roger Cleveland’ name

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Cleveland Golf Company, Inc. and Dunlop Sports Co. Ltd. filed a trademark infringement, unfair competition and trademark dilution against Callaway Golf Company for imprinting the name “Roger Cleveland” on its Mack Daddy 2 wedges.

In 1990, Roger Cleveland sold all shares and ownership interest in the Roger Cleveland Golf Company he founded, later leaving the company to join the Callaway Golf in 1996. Cleveland Golf was understandably not thrilled when Callaway’s Mack Daddy 2 wedges were released in July with “DESIGNED BY ROGER CLEVELAND” printed on the back of the wedges.

Cleveland Golf is allegedly the owners of multiple federally registered trademarks, which the company believes are being infringed upon. They are also stating that using the name Roger Cleveland on Callaway wedges confuses the marketplace, and misleads consumers to thinking that the wedges are affiliated with or originated from Cleveland Golf.

The plaintiff, that being Cleveland Golf, is calling for Callaway to cease and desist the unauthorized use of the Cleveland name, but Callaway has not met their demands.

To summarize: Callaway Golf is being sued because it put Roger Cleveland’s name on a wedge that he designed.

Cleveland Golf certainly has a case, especially as owners of the registered trademarks in question. But this probably wouldn’t be a problem for Callaway if Mr. Cleveland wasn’t so good at designing wedges. So yes, there’s a bright side.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Ken Lines

    Jan 8, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    I always thought most golfers knew Rodger Cleveland worked for Callaway so why risk a lawsuit putting his name on a wedge? I have heard some good stories about Callaway such as buying the Ben Hogan Company but I do not have direct access to the details.

  2. CCL

    Nov 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I’m rooting for the game of golf, the golfing public, and small shop owners and professionals. Hopefully, this lawsuit will not negatively affect us, and I don’t expect it will.

  3. website

    Nov 18, 2013 at 12:31 am

    Great article. I am dealing wіth many of &X74;&X68;ese iss&X75;&X65;ѕ as well..

  4. chowchow

    Nov 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Nothing new for the biggest bunch of scumbags in the golf equipment industry. Callaway had the same problem with the Phil Mickelson line.. Titleist stopped that. Titleist owns Phil’s name, just like they do Scotty Cameron. Phil jumped from Titleist who was bring out a PM line back in 2005-2006. BUT Fat Phil wnet off in a Vegas casino and lost several million bucks. He couldn’t cover the debt. Went to Titleist and wanted a big advance on his next contract. Tilteist said no.. They had to wait until Jan 1 when new contracts were handled. Callaway got wind.. Paid off Phil’s gambling losses and sighed him as their face. Callaway and Phil are both a bunch of gutter sleaze bags

  5. GolfDad907

    Nov 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Wow, can’t put the guy who designed the club’s name on it? Waaay too many lawyers in this world.

    Desperate is how this makes Cleveland appear.

    • chowchow

      Nov 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Roger Cleveland is in cahoots with another backer in buying back Cleveland Golf. Sirixon wants to dump them. Lawyers have nothing to do with Clevelands name. Roger Cleveland signed his name away freely to make a buck. Blame Cleveland for that. Greed was his reasoning

    • GSark

      Nov 6, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      Exactly.

  6. N

    Nov 1, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Wow, M over here just calling people “eejits” and telling them they know nothing, while not actually contributing anything meaningful to the conversation. Way to go champ!

    Yes it’s the guy’s name, but Callaway is clearly putting RC’s name there in an attempt to move the consumers that don’t know that he’s at Callaway over to their side. I 100% agree that Cleveland is a company with very little influence, and it may not be around in 10 years, but they may well have a case…it will definitely be interesting to see!

  7. Jim

    Oct 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    As an IP attorney, I would want to see the employment agreement and other assignments made by Mr. Cleveland to the company. There is plenty of common law around people’s rights to use their names (it’s not as simple as you might think), but general legal rights get trumped by rights assigned in contracts.

    • GSark

      Oct 31, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      One of the most clear and concise statements which precisely illustrates what is wrong with this world. It’s amazing that inside the grey matter of certain individuals is the notion of whether or not individuals have ownership rights to the names on their birth certificates. Please sir, do us all a favor and take a very long walk off of a very short pier.

      • J

        Nov 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm

        Yes, because knowing the law is an evil thing, and it is Jim’s fault that our legal system allows parties to contract to whatever they see fit. The structure of law in this country gives you more benefits and conveniences than you realize. Sounds like you need to expand your own grey matter before misconstruing and attacking other people’s legal analyses.

        • GSark

          Nov 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm

          Evil? Who said anything about evil? Who blamed anything on Jim? If you cannot read and comprehend without inference, you should stay out of discussions. I said he illustrates what is wrong with this world, and contracting to sell something your mother gave you the day you were born is one of them. People who deal in such things as though they were buying or selling cotton candy is another. Jim is not at fault, he didn’t invent it, he just bought in.
          Yes it was a little strong to ask for favors, but I believe that those who look at such things and comment so callously need a little cooling off.

    • Randy Goldberg

      Nov 5, 2013 at 8:07 am

      Jim, you are right on. Until such time that all documents, agreements, and assignments can be reviewed, no definitive answer or resolve can be achieved.

      • GSark

        Nov 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm

        Really? I’ll take a stab… they’ll go to arbitration. After a lot of wrangling and millions in lawyers fees they’ll reach and agreement neither side will be truly happy with, but one in which the legal teams of both sides will call a victory.

    • froneputt

      Nov 25, 2013 at 8:33 am

      I am also interested over what Roger Cleveland assigned to Cleveland Golf when he left. If you search under the USPTO, you find “Cleveland Golf” as a protected trademark. My guess is that Cleveland Golf’s complaint is the use of “Cleveland” on an obviously Callaway wedge is confusing to the marketplace. One question I’d have is whether they’d have the same complaint if “Designed by Joe Cleveland” was on the Callaway wedge.

      I don’t think Joe Golfer looks at the fine print on the wedge, or if he does, makes the connection between “Cleveland Golf” and Roger Cleveland. I think Joe Golfer looks at Cleveland Golf or Callaway Golf. It’s obvious they are not the same Company.

  8. Ian

    Oct 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    To the Cleveland basher….. You do realize Cleveland golf is owened by Sumitomo Rubber and has deeper pockets than Cally or TM. They will be around as long as Sumitomo wants Srixon/Cleveland to be around.

    • Setter02

      Nov 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Get rid of Cleveland and get more Srixon available in N/A then…

  9. GMatt

    Oct 31, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Does anybody really buy anything Cleveland anymore? Talk about a frivolous lawsuit by an irrelevant company….can you say “buy Cleveland products at Walmart?”

    • K

      Nov 1, 2013 at 2:31 am

      They will never dip that low, they still own the best club companies in Japan. Like XXIO and Srixon.

      • ND Hickman

        Nov 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

        I would argue that the best club company in Japan in Mizuno, but I freely admit to being very biased on that front.

    • paul

      Nov 1, 2013 at 9:04 am

      I was thinking of buying some of their wedges….

      • Sojourn

        Nov 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

        Paul: I think most people in the business will agree that Cleveland still makes some of the best wedges out there.

  10. Setter02

    Oct 31, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Stupid lawsuit by a company that likely won’t be around in 10 years anyway. Has virtually no market share and is just trying to get some publicity as their equipment and staffers can’t do it vs. the marketing giants.

    Cally should put a social media spin on this and generate more exposure for themselves by releasing wedges with little catch phrases poking fun at CG. ‘made by the man’ or ‘made by that guy’ with a laser embossed face pic of Roger. I’d game them…

    • Chris Steele

      Oct 31, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Great marketing idea but a PR Nightmare!!! no good has ever come from taking jabs at another company

    • GR8GLFR

      Oct 31, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Um… you do realize that Cleveland still owns the largest market share in the wedge category, right? I’ve managed 2 golf retail stores in the past 6 years. Despite great wedge offerings by Titleist, PING & Callaway.. the Cleveland brand still owns about 30% of the retail market. Which may not sound like much, but it is.

  11. Shallowface

    Oct 31, 2013 at 6:38 am

    The city of Cleveland should sue Cleveland Golf because when I Google Cleveland Golf looking for golf courses I get ads for golf clubs I don’t want.

    Of course, when I say Cleveland, I mean Cleveland Tennessee.

    Anybody who cares about who designed their wedge (and yes there are a lot of us who do) know where Roger Cleveland works these days.

    This is the definition of a frivolous lawsuit.

  12. Roger

    Oct 31, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Compensation will be awarded to Cleveland Golf at a rate of $588
    per day that the Naming Infringement continues.
    Lawyers will be Lobbing evidence back and forth…….
    much PR Spin will be created and the Jury will feel a Wedge or great divide over the Gaps in the evidence…..
    No Golf Company will have bought the “”Name”” without enduring
    exclusive right to use of That Name…hope im right!!
    Hope there’s a Fair Way to settle it!

    • Scott

      Nov 15, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Clever post on Halloween Roger….I am sure you had Skulls on your front yard as you offered Chili Dip to the Mack Daddy’s while the kids Bounced from Hazard to Hazard. When I hit a shot Fat….and I rarely do…I make it after too many Dos Equis. Kudo’s to the funny post!! PGA Quarter Century Member and I love the new wedges..

  13. Matthew Carter

    Oct 31, 2013 at 12:24 am

    If RG sold all rights to CG, Callaway shouldn’t be able to use RG name etc….

  14. Christopher

    Oct 31, 2013 at 12:16 am

    It would be hilarious if Callaway removed Roger’s name from the wedges then moved their factory to Cleveland. Then they could stamp Made In Cleveland on their clubs.

    Considering Cleveland Golf started out making replicas of other classic golf clubs of the 1940-50s this is quite amusing.

    • Jack

      Oct 31, 2013 at 9:13 am

      LOL

    • Double Mocha Man

      Nov 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Why would anyone move from California to Cleveland?!

      • Blopar

        Nov 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

        I live in Cleveland and I’m leaving. Roger can move here in my place.

  15. The Vog

    Oct 31, 2013 at 12:00 am

    I bet Cleveland loses. I am not an attorney, but I would bet there is no law or contractual issue that would prevent Callaway using Rogers’s actual name.

    • M

      Oct 31, 2013 at 1:31 am

      You know nothing, so you should shut up.

      • K

        Nov 1, 2013 at 2:24 am

        I bet you’re part of Cleveland 😉

        • Forsbrand

          Nov 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm

          Is there a place called CALLAWAY in Florida? Callaway golf wedges designed by Roger CLEVELAND, made in CHINA…………

      • Pablo

        Nov 7, 2013 at 1:45 am

        Play nice M, or else no dessert tonight! =P

    • johnny

      Oct 31, 2013 at 9:42 am

      I bet you Cleveland wins this as it is contradicting the Cleveland golf name with callaway

    • Tiger1016

      Oct 31, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      To start, my preference on aesthetics would be for this wedge to not have the Roger Cleveland stamping on it to begin with because I like a cleaner look. Nevertheless, after spending two minutes glancing through the motion that was filed, it looks like Cleveland / Dunlop Sports is going to have to pay much better attention to detail on some blatantly obvious and important facts in the case if they want to have any chance of success. They misname and even misspell the wedge claiming it is named the “Roger Cleveland Mac Daddy 2” when it is simply the “Mack Daddy 2” wedge and I guess could technically fully be described as the “Callaway Mack Daddy 2 Wedge Designed by Roger Cleveland”.

    • J C

      Nov 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      taxes

      • J C

        Nov 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

        this got put in wrong spot and cant find way to remove it 🙁

    • chowchow

      Nov 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      You will loose that bet. You may want to check out the Phil Mickelson Putter that Callaway tried doing a couple years ago. Phil’s name was taken off the putter. Tiltiest said no way.. Titleist has the right to fat phils name on golf clubs.

  16. Chris

    Oct 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    What a fascinating legal case

  17. Jud

    Oct 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Adam Taylormade should start creating drivers for Nike. It could read, “Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Driver created by Adam Taylormade”. Now to find a guy with the last name Taylormade…

    • M

      Oct 31, 2013 at 1:32 am

      And you’re an eejit

      • neil

        Oct 31, 2013 at 7:50 am

        wow havent heard that since i lived at home!

        Scottish?

    • GMatt

      Oct 31, 2013 at 10:03 am

      And it can be 17 yards longer or Covertier

    • chowchow

      Nov 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      you do know that TaylorMade rescued Adams from going out of business. Adams’ CEO went over to Callaway is now taking Callaway into a deeper HOLE.. Look for Bridgestone Golf to make a hostile take over for Callaway. Callaway has been on the verge of going chapter(pick a #) bankruptcy years. I own a golf shop and Callaway is by frthe worst of the OEM’s to deal with. Wrong stuff all the time. Next to impossible to get a RA to send it back. Callaway is getting their just rewards. LAWSUITS for being scumbags!!

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