The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has granted a golf equipment manufacturer’s request for a new trial in a patent dispute.
The case pitted Acushnet Company, the golf business of Fortune Brands, Inc., which was seeking the new trial, against Callaway Golf.
In the opinion, the Court of Appeals’ panel found that the inconsistent jury verdict holding one patent claim invalid and others not invalid was irreconcilable and could not stand. As a result, the Court of Appeals overturned the judgment and injunction entered by the District Court in November 2008 and sent the case back to that court for a new trial.
In remanding the case, the court also found that the trial court erred in rejecting an Acushnet defense before the trial and in not allowing certain evidence supporting that defense. The ruling also confirms that Acushnet can resume selling its Titleist Pro V1 products.
Joe Nauman, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Legal, Acushnet Company, noted that “this very positive Court of Appeals ruling affirms our contention that we were not allowed to argue our full case before the jury and that the resulting verdict was inconsistent and not sustainable. We look forward to making our full case to a new jury, where we will have the opportunity to present all of our defenses with more complete evidence. The Court of Appeals decided for us on critical issues that enhance our confidence that we will ultimately prevail in this case. In addition, our confidence is bolstered by the fact that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has now issued final reexamination decisions holding that all claims of all four patents are invalid. In fact, the defense reinstated by the Court of Appeals decision is one that the PTO has relied on in its decisions.”
Following a trial in December 2007, a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware was charged with deciding the validity of nine specific claims in four Callaway patents. The jury determined that one claim was invalid and that the other eight claims were not invalid. This created an inconsistency in the verdict that Acushnet and the Court of Appeals viewed as irreconcilable. In addition, there were a number of pre-trial rulings by the court that Acushnet believed “materially impacted the outcome of the trial.” Acushnet appealed and the Court of Appeals agreed that the District Court erred in several of its rulings, requiring a new trial and possibly other proceedings.
To view the opinion, visit here: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/09-1076.pdf