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PGA Tour Accused Of Stealing Golfer Tracking Tech IP

PGA Tour Accused Of Stealing Golfer Tracking Tech IP

By Lauren Berg

Law360 (April 6, 2020, 10:19 PM EDT) -- The PGA Tour stole a patented idea for technology that allows

spectators to track the real-time performance of individual golfers as they move around the course

during a tournament, a golf event volunteer alleged in a lawsuit Monday in Texas federal court.

The PGA, the major organizer of professional golf tournaments, has begun selling its ShotLink software

on the back of patents owned by one of its tournament volunteers, according to the patent

infringement lawsuit filed by Arthur B. Long III.

Long, who owns and manages Information Images LLC — which, in turn, owns the patents in question —

has been a volunteer spotter for PGA events for years and noticed that there is a deficiency in the

gathering of statistical and data analytics at golf tournaments, according to the complaint. Long said he

saw an opportunity to develop a real-time, interactive system and filed two patent applications.

In May 2012, Long said he scheduled a meeting with PGA executives with the intent of entering into a

business relationship that would enable his invention to help enhance the viewing experience for

tournament spectators.

At the meeting, Long demonstrated his technology for the PGA executives, including a portable device

with a map of the golf course, according to the complaint. After the first of his patents was issued, Long

said he sent a business proposal to the PGA in January 2019.

In April 2019, Long said he received an email saying the PGA wasn’t interested in a commercial

relationship with him, but that PGA “hereby expressly reserves any and all rights to freely use, without

compensation to you, any information, ideas, inventions or other materials that you choose to provide

to the PGA Tour.”

Even though the PGA never sought to license Long’s patent or otherwise compensate him, Long said the

PGA has implemented his patented system in its ShotLink software. Long said the software operates on

about 93 events a year and provides data to a number of sources, including media, on-site and

international television broadcast partners, studio golf shows, players and coaches, among others.

The infringement suit seeks an order barring the PGA Tour from further infringing Long’s patents, as well

as damages.

Representatives for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 9,806,832 and 10,270,552.

Information Images is represented by John H. Barr Jr., John A. Yates, B. Todd Patterson and Abelino

Reyna of Patterson & Sheridan LLP.

Counsel information for the PGA was not immediately available.

The case is Information Images LLC v. PGA Tour Inc., case number 6:20-cv-00268, in the U.S. District

Court for the Western District of Texas.

--Editing by Bruce Goldman.

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