Billionaire PXG founder Bob Parsons loves him some media coverage. The ex-founder of GoDaddy.com decided yesterday to publicly go after rival TaylorMade’s new P790 irons citing patent infringement.
Taylormade Golf’s new P790 irons infringe upon many PXG patents. Sued them in Federal court today!
— Bob Parsons (@DrBobParsons) September 12, 2017
However, as MyGolfSpy.com’s Chris Nickel writes, golf companies keep lawyers happy by continually filing suits at each other. For it’s very difficult to prove out and out thievery of club designs these days–mainly because to most golfers, there isn’t that much of a diff. New clubs are 80% marketing and 20% actual improvement in technology.
While neither TaylorMade nor PXG has offered any official statement, one has to think the basis for the suit has to do with the injection filled, hollow-body construction that is the foundation of most PXG products. While PXG uses thermoplastic elastomer and TaylorMade uses a TPU-based SpeedFoam, if the patents are broad enough, the material won’t matter. This case will likely boil down to process and construction, not the material composition of the goo.
Through the proverbial grapevine, MGS has learned that PXG anticipated this day would come, but it would have been impossible to foresee which OEM would step far enough over the line to prompt this response from Parson and PXG.
Some knee-jerk pundits and keyboard jockeys will (and already have) falsely label Parsons a “jerk” or “bully” based on the limited information shared in his tweet. Not that the Twittersphere is a place where people ever cast false aspersions, but let’s be clear – Bob Parsons had to do this, if for no other reason than to make it abundantly clear, he’s not going to be pushed around by any company, big or small. His entire golf business is built on this technology, if somebody else can use it, it’s a problem.
Moreover, it’s a proxy statement within the industry of David defending himself against Goliath. Often smaller (by market-share) OEM’s can’t swallow the massive legal costs necessary to engage in what could be a prolonged, and costly, legal process. Financial resources don’t pose the same issue for Parsons. Should PXG prevail, it would be a massive blow (and more than a little embarrassing) to TaylorMade’s efforts to regain momentum after losing its position atop the industry this year to rival, Callaway.
That said, it’s reasonable to think a drawn out legal battle is exactly what TaylorMade’s new owner (private equity firm KPS Capital purchased TaylorMade for $425 Million in May) wants to avoid – and should it want this matter to disappear quickly, that would likely work in PXG’s favor. If the irons go away, I suspect the lawsuit does too.
The upside for TaylorMade, and indeed the risk for PXG is that consumers may link the two technologies. If PXG is viewed as the same as TaylorMade, its perceived performance advantage would be significantly and perhaps irreparably diminished.
As one of MyGolfSpy’s followers Dave P. commented…
This should be a compelling watch as it might be the first time a large golf company shies away from a little upstart because the founder has unlimited funds going to battle and plays to win.