20 July 2017Trademarks

Titleist takes swing at parody t-shirt maker in #golfporn dispute

The parent company of golf equipment and apparel brand Titleist has taken a swing at an online store selling parody clothes.

On July 13, Acushnet filed its complaint at the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, accusing of trademark infringement and dilution, false designation of origin, unfair competition and unfair trade practices.

According to the claim, the website is selling golf apparel, headwear and accessories under the marks ‘Titties’ and ‘Titlost’, and using stylised script which is “identical” to that used for the ‘Titleist’ mark.

Acushnet has used the ‘Titleist’ trademark for over 80 years, for a range of golf equipment, accessories and apparel, including golf balls and clothing.

“Despite defendant’s knowledge that it is without authority to use plaintiff’s ‘Titleist’ trademark, defendant’s social media accounts also feature and have featured plaintiff’s golf bags … immediately adjacent to defendant’s products bearing the infringing marks,” said the claim.

In 2016, Acushnet said it generated more than $500 million in sales of Titleist-branded golf balls, over $400 million in Titleist golf club sales, and more than $130 million in sales of other golf gear using the brand.

Acushnet added that the website’s use of the infringing marks “intentionally creates an unwholesome and undesirable association”.

“Defendant posted a crude, hand-drawn depiction of a naked woman next to its ‘Titties’-branded golf hat on its Instagram account, including the hashtag #golfporn to solidify its intention to evoke an unwholesome image involving sexual activity and obscenity in connection with the promotion and sale of its goods,” claimed Acushnet.

In April this year, Acushnet sent the website a letter demanding it discontinue use of the marks.

The website responded, disputing Acushnet’s claims and refusing to discontinue use, said Acushnet.

The golf company is seeking a permanent injunction, surrender of all infringing goods, alteration of the website to remove the marks, and an order to identify all sources, manufacturers and suppliers of the products bearing the infringing marks.

It is also seeking compensatory damages, profits, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and a jury trial.

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