Earn That Dough: The IP portfolio of “Master” Golf Putter Maker Scotty Cameron
With the 2016 Masters Golf Championship underway, we thought it would be interesting to examine the IP portfolio of golf putter maker Scotty Cameron. Most folks who have played a round or two of golf have probably heard the saying “Drive for show, putt for dough.” For those who aren’t into the world’s most frustrating game, it’s not rocket science: a 300 yard drive is a great way to show off, but many times it all comes down to how well you can putt. And Scotty Cameron is one of the biggest names in helping your short game, with his line of high quality, exceptionally-crafted putters. Using a Scotty to win a big championship seems to be a pretty common affair, considering that Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and reigning 2015 Masters Champion Jordan Spieth all had one in their bag when they won a coveted green jacket.
So who is Scotty and why are his putters a big deal? Basically, he’s a guy who started off helping his dad tinker with golf clubs in a garage and started crafting putters for a living. One of his prototypes was even used to win the Masters in 1993, which helped put his putter company, Cameron Golf International, into the sights of golf royalty Acushnet, owner of the Titleist brand. Acushnet and Scotty partnered up in 1994 and haven’t looked back.
Scotty Cameron’s U.S. intellectual property portfolio includes trademarks, design patents and utility patents. For example, the brand has over 30 trademark filings, including:
Besides these easily recognizable trademarks, Don. T. Cameron (aka Scotty) has been the named inventor on over 90 U.S. patents and patent applications. Those patents and applications range from a putter head to a golf ball marker to a golf head club cover.
In fact, monitoring these patent filings is one way to see what new design and technical innovations Scotty is coming up with. For example, on Dec. 15, 2014, Acushnet filed a design patent application US29/511,861, citing Don T. Cameron as the inventor, on a putter head. That filing looks pretty similar to the currently offered Scotty Cameron GOLO 3 (even if the majority of the putter head is disclaimed in dashed lines).
Further, on May 22, 2014, Acushnet filed design application US29/491,686, once again citing Don T. Cameron as the inventor, on the mallet style putter head. And, as with the previous example, that filing looks pretty similar to the current Scotty Cameron Futura X5 putter model.
Design patents can help reveal what the new crop of putters might look like, but what about the features that are supposed to help us putt better? A simple monitoring of Acushnet’s U.S. utility application filings can give us a clue. For example, Acushnet has two pending applications, citing Don T. Cameron as the inventor, that appear to focus on how the putter shaft connects to the putter head.
Is this a big deal? Maybe. Claiming to further improve alignment, US Patent Appl. Nos. 14/807,006 and 14/253,041 disclose that the lower shaft portion shaft axis (LSPSA), the portion of the shaft that connects with the actual putter head, forms an angle of 10 to 15º from a vertical plane in a back to front angle to create an offset, with a preferred angle of 13º. Additionally, both applications disclose that the LSPSA should be 92 to 95º from the horizontal plane, with a preferred angle of 93º. This means that the lower shaft portion leans back toward the heel of the putter in the heel-to-toe direction. This feature is supposedly designed to align with a player’s visual of the heel-side sightline, such that the lower shaft portion and the heel side sightline align when the putter is in the address position.
The ‘006 and the ‘041 are still being examined. In the meantime, a lot of golfers may use any excuse they can to justify a new Scotty. Considering the brand recognition, the futuristic putter heads, and maybe even the lower putter shaft alignment feature, players may have learned all they need to know about Scotty Cameron’s IP holdings to convince themselves to go out and buy a new Scotty!