Indeed, Costco might just be trying to beat Acushnet at a legal game that the ball maker has mastered—court sport. Acushnet has managed to muscle out other upstarts easily, simply by filing complaints.
Tiny manufacturers who can’t afford to litigate have been forced to fold based on Acushet’s accusations alone, with no proof of infringement. For example in 2015, Acushnet sued five small golf-ball makers. The co-founder of one of these companies, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the terms of the settlement, told Quartz that’s just how business is done.
Companies with deep pockets lock down the market by making it too expensive for competitors to operate and to offer lower-priced yet quality products. It is a legitimate tactic; even those who succumb to it don’t really begrudge the approach. The co-founder of the smaller competitor sued by Acushnet said he believes the company decides who to sue based on Golf Digest’s Hot List, which signals potential competitors, and that the company files claims regardless of actual infringement.
What a great system the patent and law system is!