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Golf News: - Posted 3rd March 1998

Callaway loses legal battle to stop Spalding selling new ball

Santa Ana, California - Spalding has won the right to sell its Top-Flite Ball/Club System C after Callaway had filed a legal suit in an effort to stop the ball coming to the marketplace

A judge yesterday ruled against Callaway Golf Co. and said there was no consumer confusion created by Spalding's advertising campaign.

"She complimented Spalding on innovative marketing," John Hoagland, managing director of the golf ball division for Spalding, said about the ruling by Judge Alicemarie Stotler.

The lawsuit, filed last month in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., by Callaway Golf Co. against Spalding Sports Worldwide, Inc., asked for a court order stopping Spalding from using Callaway's trademarks and images on its packaging.

Spalding said its packaging contains a prominent disclaimer on the front saying Callaway has nothing to do with the ball.

Judge Alicemarie Stotler agreed.

"We're thrilled," Hoagland said. "The consumer is the winner here. We've spent five years developing this product to make the game more enjoyable and we are thrilled that this is not a hurdle for the consumer."

Spalding announced two new balls at the PGA of America Merchandise Show in January.

The Top-Flite Ball/Club System C, is designed to "maximize performance when used with ... the Callaway Great Big Bertha" drivers, and the Top-Flite Ball/Club System T ball is designed for use with the Taylor Made Ti Bubble 2 drivers.

Spalding said it would to make the balls available immediately. "The balls will be on the shelves next week," Hoagland announced.

Callaway said at least 5 million golfers use a Big Bertha driver and it accused Spalding of "attempting to confuse those golfers and others into believing that Callaway Golf supports the use of the new ball with its drivers."

A spokesman said the company would continue with its efforts to stop the Top-Flite ball.

"This was a sneak attack by Spalding," said Larry Dorman, vice president for advertising and public relations for Callaway. "We weren't really able to present any evidence about whether the ball lives up to the claims that were made because they did not make balls available to us. Now we have them and can conduct our own tests."