Golf Ball Dimples at Issue in Federal Court

     BOSTON (CN) – As pro golfers warm up for the Masters Tournament, the Acushnet company sued nine competitors, claiming they violate three patents on “a particular dimple pattern” on most pros’ chosen golf ball, the Titleist.
     Acushnet sued nine companies, foreign and domestic, in Federal Court on Monday.
     The 30-page lawsuit includes 17 paragraphs describing the patented “triangular dipyramid dimple pattern” that Acushnet claims can “reduce both lift and drag, causing the ball to fly along a more penetrating ball flight.”
     Dimple patterns affect both lift and drag. “For an optimal golf ball trajectory, the goal is to develop a ball with an optimal balance of lift and drag forces, not merely to minimize drag while maximizing lift. A ball that simply maximizes lift risks flying too high, which can cause reduced accuracy and possibly reduced distance,” Acushnet says in the complaint.
     Until 2003, or thereabouts, most golf balls were made with 390 to 440 dimples, because it was believed that “more dimples caused a ball to fly further,” Acushnet says.
     ‘Tain’t so, Acushnet says. After “extensive research,” Acushnet says it discovered that fewer dimples in certain patterns could reduce both lift and drag. It invented the Titleist Pro V1x golf ball, which has 60 fewer dimples than its predecessor, the Pro VI.
     Acushnet promptly took out three patents, disclosing in the applications that its inventions “combine lower dimple coverage with multiple dimple sizes to provide higher dimple coverage and improved aerodynamic characteristics.”
     It claims that all nine defendants violate its patents, and that they “all sell golf balls under different brand names with the same dimple pattern: a triangular dipyramid dimple pattern with 318 dimples in three different dimple sizes.”
     Acushnet seeks an injunction and damages. It is represented by Joshua Krumholz, with Holland & Knight.
     More than 2 billion golf balls are sold each year in the United States, according to industry estimates. The Titleist Pro V1x was going for $4 a pop this morning on Amazon.com.
     Here are the defendants: Zimventures LLC dba 3 Up Golf; Dixon Golf Inc.; Kick X Golf Corporation dba Kick X Sports; Lightning Golf; Monsta Golf LLC; Rife Golf; Vail Roberts LLC dba I Need The Ball; Vice Sporting Goods GmbH dba Vice Golf; Nexen Corp. dba Saintnine; and Ariva Golf.
     The Masters Tournament begins Thursday.

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