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Golfing great Gary Player has won the opening round in his trademark violation lawsuit to stop an Internet company from using his name and logo in the sale of golf merchandise. U.S. District Court Judge James C. Paine of the Southern District of Florida on Monday followed the recommendation of Magistrate Ann E. Vitunac and issued a preliminary injunction preventing Gary Player Golf Inc. from using Player’s name, likeness or other intellectual property rights associated with the golfer, including his Black Knight logo. The Gary Player and Black Knight names are registered trademarks. Paine’s order also prohibits Gary Player Golf — which until recently was called Gary Player Golf.com — from contacting the Callaway Golf Co. and other companies concerning any rights to use or license the Gary Player name. In July, Player, who has a home and offices in Palm Beach County, Fla., terminated his licensing agreement with Gary Player Golf, based in Grover Beach, Calif., alleging the company was $175,000 in arrears in licensing payments to him and one of his companies. Player alleges that Gary Player Golf continued using his name to sell products, and that it interfered with an endorsement deal he had with Callaway Golf Co. Vitunac’s report and recommendation, issued Friday, found in Player’s favor in every instance. She wrote: “Golf.com will only be prevented from selling and marketing under a brand that it has no right to use. Accordingly, Golf.com will suffer no legitimate harm from the issuance of an injunction.” In adopting Vitunac’s report and recommendations, Paine noted that the defendant raised no objections to the report. But the defendant’s attorney, Ronald Crescenzo, did file an objection, apparently after Paine issued his order. Crescenzo, an associate at Boose Casey Ciklin Lubitz Martens McBane & O’Connell in West Palm Beach, asked Judge Paine to amend the stipulation in his order that Gary Player Golf not communicate with or contact other parties concerning the Gary Player name and Black Knight logo. “To do so amounts to infringing on the defendant’s First Amendment rights,” Crescenzo wrote. Player’s attorney, Peter A. Sachs, a partner at Jones, Foster, Johnston & Stubbs in West Palm Beach, urged Paine to ignore the defense objection in a response filed with the court on Wednesday. The communication that Paine’s order prohibits, Sachs wrote, “is not protectable speech, but rather an illegal attempt to further interfere with plaintiffs’ business relationships.”

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