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Golf News: - Posted 24th February 1998

Spalding sued by Callaway over new golf ball

Santa Ana, California - Spalding, makers of golf balls for over 100 years, is being sued by Callaway in an attempt to stop "consumer confusion regarding a new Spalding golf ball".

The lawsuit filed yesterday in the US District Court in Santa Ana by Callaway Golf Co against Spalding Sports Worldwide, Inc. asks for a court order stopping Spalding from using Callaway trademarks and images on its packaging

The ball. the Top-Flite Ball/Club System, was announced by Spalding last month at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla claiming it was designed to maximise performance with the Taylor-Made Ti Bubble 2 drivers and the Callaway Great Big Bertha drivers.While the balls are not expected to be marketed until 15th March the packaging displayed the Callaway and Taylor Made names along with images of the Great Big Bertha and Ti Bubble 2 drivers.

Callaway claim that some 5 million golfers play the Big Bertha driver and it has now 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."

"They don't plan to ship until March so everyone is moving as quickly as possible to get this before the court before the shipments start", said Callaway's chief legal officer, Steve McCracken.

"If Spalding wants to promote a new product, it should do so using its own name and reputation, not ours," said Eli Callaway, the company founder.

"We have nothing to do with this ball, and have not even been given the opportunity to test one. We don't know if their claims are true or not.We want nothing to do with what might be a marketing gimmick," said Callaway.

On hearing about the suit Taylor Made president, George Montgomery, said "We find it hard to believe that this is anything more than a marketing ploy that provides no real unique technological benefits to golfers using Ti Bubble 2 Metalwoods." He added that Taylor Made has not ruled out legal action against Spalding.

The Callaway suit is asking Spalding to stop using the Callaway trademark on its packing, that it destroys existing packaging, that its accounts for all profits from the sale of the System C ball and that any damages awarded to Callaway be tripled because of Spalding's "intentional and wilful conduct".

Spalding said it would "vigorously defend its packaging," which contains a prominent disclaimer on the front of its box saying Callaway has nothing to do with the ball.

"We reviewed this packaging with our legal staff prior to launching the product," said John Hoagland, managing director of Top-Flite Golf Ball and Etonic Golf. "They gave us clearance and we are confident the court will agree," he added.

The action takes on more significance with Callaway planning to introduce its own golf ball next year.