Titleist Files Lawsuit Over "Titties" Golf Apparel

Image of Titties Golf

There has never been a lawsuit filed that is more right up this blog’s alley. Titleist, the maker of golf balls and equipment, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against an individual selling golf apparel bearing the name “Titties” in a similar script font.

Image of Titties GolfI mean Acushnet, the owner of the Titleist brand, was just asking for this really with the first three letters of the brand’s name. Benjamin Russell (no company – not a smart move, Ben) is the owner of the imadeboey.com website which sells all kinds of merchandise, from poker chips, to shirts, and to beer koozies bearing the name “Titties” as can be seen in the picture to the right.  Clearly, the name is inspired by the ultra-famous Titleist golf brand.
For over 80 years, the Titleist name has been branded on a wide range of golf equipment, accessories, and apparel including golf balls and clubs. Titleist makes some big dough and since 2000, its Pro V1 golf ball has sales in excess of $4.5 billion. That’s a lot of balls. As you can see from the below image, the trademarks are very similar. The test for trademark infringement is whether the marks of confusingly similar and I think it is safe to say at a quick glance or from afar the marks look identical.
Image of Titleist and Titties
Titleist claims that consumers are bound to be confused by the two similar marks and that “Defendant posted a crude, hand-drawn depiction of a naked woman next to its TITTIES-branded golf hat on its Instagram account, including the hashtag #golfporn to solidify its intention to evoke an unwholesome image involving sexual activity and obscenity in connection with the promotion and sale of its goods.” Titleist called this act “offensive” to women and “disparagement.” Titleist sent Ben a cease and desist letter and he failed to comply, therefore this lawsuit was commenced. Titleist wants the Titties-branded merchandise to be pulled from the marketplace and seeks its damages and attorneys’ fees.

Safe to say that it is likely a judge or jury would find the marks confusing but is this a parody or fair use of the trademark? This is defendant’s best defense to claims of infringement but one, that I would not think, will be a defense fought to the bitter end. As of now, the website is still up and running and we shall see if defendant tries to fight this action.