A Bully on the Links

Thanks to Howard Bashman's "How Appealing" blog, which is one of the best around, I can help report to you that the grand Pebble Beach golf course in California has just lost a major battle in a silly court fight it never should have started. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced today that it was affirming a lower court ruling that had tossed out Pebble Beach's lawsuit against a fellow named Michael Caddy (no pun intended, I am sure), who operates a small bed-and-breakfast place (without a golf course) near the sea (and pebbly beach) in England called, of course, "Pebble Beach."

The big American golf concern had sued Caddy under federal and state trademark law alleging that Caddy's business infringed upon and diluted the famous "Pebble Beach" franchise. Lame, right? I mean, the guy is thousands of miles away, near a beach that actually does have pebbles-- the U.S. Pebble Beach resort, I am told, does not include actual pebbles on its many beaches -- and isn't operating a golf course. Why in the world would anyone confuse one with the other? And what possible damages could Pebble Beach legitimately claim to have incurred?

Thankfully, the U.S. courts blocked the lawsuit before it even got started by ruling that Pebble Beach did not have personal jurisdiction over Caddy to allow him to be hauled into an American court in a civil case. This wasn't even a David vs. Goliath case because at least David and Goliath were competing in the same arena. This was instead a case about a bully going after a small fry just for the sake of doing so. Good for Michael Caddy for sticking up for himself.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 12, 2006; 3:15 PM ET
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Nice to hear that everyone can't be dragged into an American court. Too bad the Natwest Three won't be so fortunate. Extra-territorial application of U.S. laws is getting to be a real pain in the rear.

Posted by: Paul | July 12, 2006 05:26 PM

Pebble Beach golf course is a big putts.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | July 13, 2006 04:28 AM

Having SCUBA dived right next to the course, I can assure you there are no pebbles. Some large rocks, algae, kelp, fish, eels, etc. And an awful lot of golf balls, but no pebbles.

Posted by: skayell | July 13, 2006 11:52 AM

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