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Use of Golf Course Landmarks Challenged in Court
Tiger Woods struggled at the PGA
Championship. At this time, it looks like he'll miss the cut, which is a rough day in golf terms.
But maybe his misfortune is more understandable in IP terms. Maybe he's concerned
about one of the most hallowed golf courses in America. Maybe he's distracted
by Augusta National's recent trademark lawsuit.
Augusta National, which operates the Augusta National
Golf Club and which hosts The Masters Tournament, recently filed a trademark lawsuit
against three British companies. In its complaint, Augusta National accuses the
companies' simulation websites of infringing Augusta National's proprietary trademark
and trade dress rights.These rights include:
Augusta National's Trade Dress:
The MASTERS family of marks:
Golf Simulator Infringing Golf's Sacred Grounds?
According to Augusta National's complaint:
Defendants have advertised,
promoted, offered for sale, and sold a golf simulator software comprised of a
series of computer simulations of realworld golf courses ("CPG Golf).
Among the golf courses prominently featured in CPG Golf is Augusta National's
In particular, CPG Golf
features the most notable portions and features of Augusta National's golf
course, and incorporates the Augusta National Trade Dress, specifically including
Amen Corner, Hogan Bridge, and the Clubhouse. Moreover, CPG Golf prominently displays
the MASTERS family of marks, and, in particular, the Map & Flag Design and MASTERS
or download the entire complaint filed in Augusta National v. Custom Play, et al., 11-cv-00119 (S.D. Ga. August 5, 2011)
Golf Course Trade Dress Put in Jeopardy Before
Of relevance is a 1998 case from the Fifth Circuit, Pebble Beach Co. v. Tour 18 I Limited,
155 F.3d 526 (5th Cir. Tex. 1998) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers]. In Pebble Beach, several golf courses
(Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, and Sea Pines/Harbour Town) filed a
service-mark/trade-dress infringement lawsuit against Tour 18. Tour 18 had created
golf courses comprised of famous holes, including holes from plaintiffs' courses.
Specifically, Tour 18 copied Pebble Beach Hole 14, Pinehurst No. 2 Hole 3, and
Harbour Town Hole 18, including the hole's signature lighthouse.
The Pebble Beach court
information on trade dress, read:
Gilson on Trademarks Chapter 2A: Trade Dress
Protection (Non-subscribers can purchase Gilson on Trademarks at the LexisNexis Bookstore).
Lexis.com subscribers can explore/search Trademark Law resources on Lexis.com or access any of these
Mathew Bender Trademark Law publications:
Non-subscribers can purchase Trademark Law
treatises/resources and Mathew Bender publications from the LexisNexis Bookstore
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