Some interesting news is popping out of Scottsdale Arizona. The Phoenix Business Journal is reporting that the Karsten Manufacturing Corp., the parent company of PING, has purchased at least five club technology patents from Nike.
Terms of the sale weren’t released, but the Journal reports PING has also purchased additional Nike equipment patents, but that those sales haven’t been officially registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Nike, of course, exited the golf club equipment arena last August but had been actively preparing its 2017 product line right up until that announcement.
“We see this as an opportunity to add utility patents to our already significant intellectual property portfolio. Our team can use these patents, along with our existing intellectual property, to our competitive advantage, accelerating our ability to further technology that ultimately leads to higher performing, score-lowering golf equipment.” - PING president John K. Solheim, to the Phoenix Business Journal
MyGolfSpy has tracked down the five patents purchased by PING, and while patents are long-winded and highly technical, we can report that PING has picked up some fairly interesting technology, the most stunning of which is a patent application for a complete single length set, including woods, hybrids, and irons.
It’s by far the longest and most detailed patent and was filed by Nike in May of 2015.
PING also purchased what appears to be a 2007 manufacturing process patent for the rotational molding of polymeric components for metal woods. This patent appears to cover what Nike called RZN, a strong, lightweight component which was used extensively in its Vapor Flex and Vapor Flex 440 drivers.
Another patent, granted in 2012, covers aerodynamic features for metal woods, specifically dimples on the crown and/or sole, and even more specifically, crown dimples concentrated towards the hosel and even on the hosel. The patent covers several variations of dimple location, and states the dimples can improve aerodynamics in the latter portion of the downswing, just prior to impact. Given the timing of the patent, this appears to be Nike's version of PING's turbulators.
It had been reported that Nike was planning to do away with its unique Covert Cavity in its 2017 metalwoods line, but the company did have a 2013 patent for an elongated cavity in a square-shaped driver intended to allow for weight redistribution and increased MOI. That patent now belongs to PING.
The fifth patent picked up by PING is a 2006 concept that would allow the manufacturer, club fitter or builder or even the user the ability to adjust the sound and feel of a club, specifically the putter.
The Phoenix Business Journal has reported that Nike has over 1,200 golf-related patents. And although many of those are most certainly centered on footwear and apparel, Nike’s stable of club engineers no doubt had some interesting projects cooking in The Oven. As stated earlier, PING is in the process of purchasing more of Nike’s patents, and it will be fascinating to see how one of golf’s most innovative and intellectual brands folds these new technologies into its future offerings.