Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG) and owner Bob Parsons filed a lawsuit against TaylorMade Golf in federal court on Sept. 12, alleging TaylorMade’s new P790 irons infringe on eight patents the company has obtained for the design and construction of its 0311 irons.
The PXG 0311 irons, first played by Ryan Moore on the PGA Tour in January 2015, are a hollow-body construction iron which has a face about 1.5mm in thickness. Inside the iron, a thermoplastic elastomer is connected to the hollow body to deliver vibration dampening, audible control and support for the thin face. The irons, made in five sections, can run in upwards of $3,000 for a set, and they’ve proven popular among high-end golfers looking for extra yards.
In August, TaylorMade Golf announced their P790 irons, an extension of their P700 series of irons, which is also a hollow-body construction iron. Their iron uses a different material, called SpeedFoam, to provide similar benefits to their iron, including support, as well feel and sound control.
The PXG suit, filed in Arizona, alleges TaylorMade is infringing on eight patents issued to PXG from February 2015 through June 2017 concerning the design and construction of the P790 irons. The issue at play isn’t solely that these are both hollow-body irons using an adhered, supporting polymer material. Patents are very specific in nature, and so, too, are PXG’s claims of TaylorMade’s infringements. The patents in question concern both design and construction of all facets of the clubs, including how many pieces are required to build the iron, weight placement, face thickness, use of the supporting polymer and more.
However, TaylorMade has made hollow-body irons in the past (like most OEMs) and has used foam for internal support and audio/vibration control in the past. The question at hand is if that previous equipment design affords them the right to use the P790 design, which PXG claims is specifically akin to their 0311 iron design and construction.
The company turned to former Nike Golf designer Tom Stites to analyze their patent-infringement claims. Paid for his work, Stites sided with PXG.
PXG’s suit seeks monetary relief for these alleged infringements, and the company sought a temporary restraining order barring the sale of P790 irons. That request for a temporary restraining order was denied Friday hours after a hearing in which both companies, through representation, each had an hour to plead their case. This means TaylorMade is able to sell the P790 irons at resellers and partners nationwide. The court will have a hearing for a temporary injunction in November.
This could be a major blow to PXG, as the lawsuit effectively validates the design of the P790 irons as being similar in nature for a significantly lower cost. Now these irons can be sold for months while the court system works.
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