TaylorMade suing Costco over iron technology dispute

TaylorMade Costco lawsuit

TaylorMade alleges Costco's new iron line infringes on several patents tied to TaylorMade's P790 iron.


The introduction of Costco’s much-anticipated Kirkland Signature Players Irons was a major step for the wholesaler, which appears intent on expanding its footprint in the golf equipment industry with new products designed to go head-to-head against the biggest brands.

But not all of Costco’s competitors are embracing the $499 offering that sold out within hours of its release last month. TaylorMade, in particular, alleges the iron’s design infringes on several patents tied to the company’s popular P790 iron that has a similar hollow-cavity design.

In response, TaylorMade is taking Costco and Southern California Design Company (SCDC) — the iron’s designer — to court.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in the Southern District Court of California, TaylorMade alleged Costco and SCDC infringed on five separate patents, all of them tied to the multi-material P790 design that TaylorMade says “revolutionized the filled-iron category” in 2017. TaylorMade fills the cavity of these irons with with a polymer named SpeedFoam, as referenced in the complaint.

Costco did not immediately reply to GOLF.com’s request for comment.

“The accused products copy many features and technologies from TaylorMade’s P790 irons and the asserted patents,” the complaint states. “Costco’s website notes that the accused products are ‘are built for distance and forgiveness with a stainless steel body, injected urethane insert, and an internal tungsten weight for optimal launch, forgiveness, and playability.’”

The complaint also claims Costco falsely advertised the inclusion of an injected urethane insert in its Players Iron set that is not housed inside the cavity.

“The statement by Defendants that the accused products contain an ‘injected urethane insert’ is literally false, or in the alternative, is misleading and, on information and belief, has actually deceived or has a tendency to deceive consumers in a way that influences purchasing decisions,” the complaint states. “Defendants’ false statements are material to purchasing decisions because they falsely or misleadingly suggest that the accused products have features found on premium clubs such as the Taylor Made P790. Defendants’ false advertising has misled golf journalists and customers to believe the accused products are similar to or equivalent to the TaylorMade P790.”

The complaint included 11 exhibits to prove that Costco’s iron shares numerous design patents tied to the P790 cavity design, face construction and aperture into the enclosed cavity. TaylorMade is seeking “compensatory damages, including opportunity costs and enhanced damages in an amount to be proven at trial.”

In the complaint, TaylorMade also claims Southern California Design Company has done business under a trade name “Indi Golf,” and “has manufactured infringing products in, or imported infringing products into, the United States and has sold infringing products to Costco.” TaylorMade also states SCDC currently employs a former TaylorMade engineer who took part in the development of P790.

TaylorMade provided the following statement to GOLF.com Thursday:

“At TaylorMade, we are proud of our many innovations and technological advances that have shaped the industry. From the first metalwood in 1979, to movable weight technology (MWT) in 2004, Flight Control Technology in 2009 (FCT) and filled irons like our category-leading P790 irons, launched in 2017.

“Our P790 irons not only revolutionized the filled-iron category, but also invented a new category in Player’s Distance Irons. They quickly became iconic in the marketplace due to their superior technology and performance for all golfers, as well as their overall sales success.

“So, when another company seeks to imitate our products, we take it very seriously and take immediate action. Not only are we protecting our intellectual property, but we are also seeking to protect golfers who may be duped and misled into thinking cheaper imitations will perform at the same level as the original.

“Our P790 irons have been synonymous with distance and forgiveness for golfers of all levels and this is why we decided to file suit against an inferior imitation under the name Kirkland Signature Player’s Irons from Costco and Indi Golf.”

While this might be the first time Costco’s Kirkland Signature iron has faced a claim of patent infringement, TaylorMade’s P790 has been down this road before.

In September 2017, PXG founder Bob Parson filed a patent infringement lawsuit against TaylorMade alleging the P790 “[infringed] upon many PXG patents.” When PXG’s restraining order to halt the sales of P790 was denied, TaylorMade flipped the script and filed a similar suit claiming PXG had violated numerous TaylorMade patents. The two sides eventually reached a settlement in 2019.


Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.