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Nitro Leisure Products, L.L.C. v. Acushnet Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
341 F.3d 1356 (2003)


Acushnet Company (Acushnet) (plaintiff) was a top-selling golf-ball manufacturer. Nitro Leisure Products, L.L.C. (Nitro) (defendant) sold used golf balls. After collecting used balls, if the balls were in good condition, then Nitro merely washed the balls and sold them as “recycled” balls. If golf balls were scuffed or stained, then Nitro removed their basecoat of paint, repainted the balls, added a clear coat, stamped the balls with their original manufacturer’s trademark, and sold them as “refurbished.” The refurbished balls were packaged with a disclaimer stating that the balls: (1) were refurbished; (2) had been stripped, repainted, and stamped by Nitro; and (3) were not approved or warranted by their original manufacturers. Acushnet sued Nitro for patent and trademark infringement and sought a preliminary injunction to stop Nitro from selling the refurbished balls. Specifically, Acushnet alleged that the refurbished balls were so altered in performance, quality, and appearance that they no longer resembled Acushnet balls and could not be sold under the Acushnet mark. The district court ruled that Acushnet had failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits and denied Acushnet’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Acushnet appealed.

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