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Callaway Golf Wins Order Blocking Alleged Counterfeits

December 31, 1996|KIMBERLY SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Callaway Golf Co. said Monday that it has won a preliminary injunction against Impression Golf of Huntington Beach preventing Impression from purchasing, advertising or selling clubs that Callaway alleges are illegal knock-offs of its popular Big Bertha models.

Carlsbad-based Callaway said illegal copies of its stainless steel Big Bertha clubs--legitimate versions of which retail for about $285 each--as well as its other models, cost it several million dollars a year in lost sales.

"We have a constant effort in trying to chase this down," said Donald H. Dye, president and chief executive of Callaway.

Impression owner Dan Gutierez denied Monday that he made or sold illegal copies of the clubs but said he will "have to eliminate" his Big Boomer, Big Brother and Stealth Bomber models, which Callaway claims are counterfeit copies of its clubs, because of the cost involved in fighting the claim.

"Otherwise they are going to stay on my tail every day, and I can't afford them," he said.

Callaway has filed a lawsuit against Impression and obtained a court order approving a recent raid of the company by the U.S. marshals' office.

Counterfeiting has become a big problem in the industry, said Pat Lang, owner of a women's golf club manufacturer in Golden, Colo. Counterfeiters "design them as a hobby and then sell them at flea markets and out of the back of their cars."

Callaway said it spends about $4 million a year to protect its copyrights. The company initiates about 12 raids a year.

It was a Dec. 17 raid of Impression Golf by U.S. marshals that turned up hundreds of the alleged counterfeit club heads, Callaway said.

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