It seemed unthinkable just a few months ago that Costco and Titleist could face off in a legal dispute over golf ball patents and advertising claims… yet here we are.
- “Not infringing any valid patent rights owned by … Acushnet” (the holding company of Titleist, FootJoy and Pinnacle).
- “Not engaged in any false advertising regarding the [Kirkland Signature] golf balls.”
The dispute appears to have started when Acushnet sent a threatening letter to Costco, accusing the retailer of “infringing 11 Acushnet patents based on its sale of the [Kirkland Signature] 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.'”
The “Kirkland Signature guarantee” appears to be a major sticking point for Acushnet. According to the complaint, “Acushnet asserts that the statement is intended to indicate to a reasonable consumer that the [Kirkland Signature] golf ball is the same or of greater quality as Titleist’s Pro V1.” Costco says it has “never publicly compared the [Kirkland Signature] ball with any Titleist ball, including the Pro V1.”
More interesting than all the legal mumbo jumbo for most golfers may be this sentence:
“Even though the Costco [Kirkland Signature] golf ball has sold out, Costco plans to continue to sell the [Kirkland Signature] golf ball.”
There it is, on record, that Costco plans to continue selling the $15-per-dozen, four-piece, urethane-covered golf balls that golfers went crazy over last year.