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Golf App Maker Sues U.S. Golf Association in Seattle for Unfair Competition

Screen shot from Diablo Golf iPhone app

XYZ Media, Inc., is a Bellingham-based company that develops Web sites and apps for smart phones. It publishes www.DiabloGolf.com, a social networking Web site for golfers, and an app by the same name. XYZ’s site and app stores a golfer’s scores, courses played, slope ratings, course ratings, and enables users to calculate course handicaps.

The U.S. Golf Association (USGA) provides goods and services to golfers and golf courses. The USGA claims to own common law or registered trademarks in HANDICAP INDEX, COURSE HANDICAP, SLOPE, and COURSE RATINGS in connection with golf.

On June 8, XYZ filed suit against the USGA in the Western District of Washington. The lawsuit claims the USGA wrongly terminated XYZ’s access to USGA data used in the Diablo Golf Website and app in an effort to convert users to USGA’s competing product. XYZ also claims the USGA falsely told Apple that XYZ was not authorized to create iPhone apps using USGA’s data, and threatened suit based on XYZ’s use of the terms “handicap index,” “course handicap,” “slope,” and “course ratings,” which XYZ says are generic and/or functional.

XYZ seeks damages and injunctive relief, as well as declarations of noninfringement. It also seeks to cancel the USGA’s federal trademark registrations.

The suit makes similar claims against the Washington Golf Association.

Defendants have not yet answered the complaint.

The case cite is XYZ Media, Inc. v. United States Golf Association, No. 12-989 (W.D. Wash.).

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