Intellectual Property in Play at Augusta National 2016

April 12, 2016
Golf IP

Intellectual Property and the Masters® Golf Tournament

Over the weekend, England’s Danny Willett won the 2016 Master’s Tournament at Augusta National®. The young Englishman played impeccable golf on the unforgiving Georgia fairways where he used Callaway clubs and balls throughout the four days to secure his victory. With Willet’s success, we took this opportunity to assess the top 10 golf brands from an IP perspective. We looked at total patents filed and broke down the numbers to see who the “top players” were in the industry.

The golf patent search was carried out on Thomson Innovation where keywords, patent assignee restrictions, and INPADOC family information sets were used to filter the data. The patents were categorised by their primary IPC classification codes and high-level manual reviews were conducted to identify the categories of training tools and accessories with golf specific-patents. This is just the tip of the iceberg and further analysis into each category would lead to a more in-depth report. Assessment of patent citations would allow deeper insight into which company’s technology is truly at the core for each golfing category and which patents are outliers, unexpected and potentially groundbreaking. For a sport that is so traditional, it’s interesting to see how much innovation and technology is involved in the game.

The infographic below shows that balls and clubs are unsurprisingly the two biggest categories for golf-related patents. Nike and Titleist have the largest patent portfolios with Nike having the most golf club related patents – 353 more than their closest competitor Callaway. However, the number of patents doesn’t necessarily mean a larger overall market share, nor is it an indicator of portfolio quality. This assessment is merely a starting point for visualising the overall IP landscape for the golf equipment industry.

We’ve also included the registered trademarks for Augusta National and the Masters tournament to highlight other forms of IP that are associated with the tournament.

For anyone interested in golf-related technology and news, here is a list of blogs you might enjoy reading:

IP of Golf Augusta Infographic

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