Bushnell’s GPS Golf Speaker Based on Stolen Idea, Suit Claims

Vista Outdoor Inc.’s Bushnell unit says golfers are snapping up theWingman, its new GPS-enabled speaker that broadcasts how far away the ball is from the hole, describes course features and plays music.

But the founder of a California speaker maker,Extreme 18 LLC, claims in a lawsuit filed Friday in Delaware that Bushnell stole the idea from him after he and the company were unable to reach agreement on a partnership to develop the product in 2018.

While Wingman sales figures aren’t available, Vista Outdoor Chief Executive Officer Chris Metz said on an Aug. 6 earnings call with investors that demand for the $150 speaker, which began shipping in March, outstripped the company’s first-year sales forecast in two months.

The speaker magnetically attaches to golf carts and includes a mobile application for score tracking, tee times and 3D images of courses.

Extreme 18 founder Jock Thompson, in his lawsuit against Anoka, Minnesota-based Vista Outdoor, says those are the same features of a product he was developing more than two years ago. His company, known as X18, makes portable speakers for golfers calledThe Beacon.

PGA Trade Show

Thompson claims he met a Bushnell representative at a 2018Professional Golfers’ Association of America trade show, where they discussed a partnership on the product. According to the lawsuit, both sides signed a non-disclosure agreement and met several more times but “negotiations eventually broke down.” Around October 2019,X18 learned Bushnell was developing the Wingman, “the same name X18 and Bushnell had discussed for the GPS golf speaker,” Thompson alleges.

X18 asked a court to order Vista to hand over all revenue from sales of the Wingman and pay unspecified damages for breaching the mutual non-disclosure agreement and stealing a trade secret.

Representatives of Vista didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, and Thompson couldn’t be reached.

The case is Extreme 18 LLC v. Bushnell Holdings Inc., 20-cv-1146, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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