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Owner of Innovative FieldTurf Sports Surface Technology Sues Maker of AstroTurf for Patent Infringement

MONTREAL, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- SynTenniCo, Inc., creator of FieldTurf, a revolutionary and unrivaled concept in artificial grass sports surfaces, filed a patent infringement suit (Civil Action No. 98-208), on September 4, against the maker of AstroTurf, American Sports Products Group, Inc. (ASPG), in U.S. District Court in Covington, Kentucky.

SynTenniCo has accused ASPG, based in White Plains, New York, and its subsidiary, Southwest Recreational Industries, Inc., of Leander, Texas, of marketing and installing a sports surface, AstroPlay, which infringes upon the unique and innovative design of the FieldTurf product. In addition, SynTenniCo claims that Southwest has made false statements concerning the quality, durability, safety and composition of FieldTurf to the general public, and, in particular, to SynTenniCo's customers or potential customers.

"We created a superior synthetic product to Astroturf that provides the comparable playability, reaction and safety of a top level natural grass system for sports such as football and soccer and they have attempted to copy it, in spite of our patent," said John Gilman, CEO of SynTenniCo and its FieldTurf division.

"FieldTurf is the new technology in artificial grass surfaces. For some time now, professional and amateur athletes alike have sought an alternative to the artificial playing surfaces which they felt more like concrete than natural grass, and which many players and coaches out there believe has caused injury and the premature ending of more than a few athletic careers," said Gilman.

The ten year old SynTenniCo has, according to Gilman, provided that alternative in FieldTurf -- an artificial grass surface that has all of the safety and playing characteristics of natural grass, while still providing cost-effectiveness along with the long-life durability of an artificial surface that is required by the multiple usage and constant demand of both professional and public athletic facilities today.

FieldTurf, with production facilities in the United States and Canada, has steadily gained market share throughout the world. With the help of its strategic partner, Nike, Inc., SynTenniCo unveiled FieldTurf to the international sports community in Paris during the 1998 World Cup in France. FieldTurf is fast gaining acceptance by both professional and recreational athletes. Among other sites, FieldTurf has been installed in outdoor football fields at Greenway Avenue Stadium in Cumberland, Maryland where it was used by the NFL Washington Redskins, Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo, Texas and Ringgold High School in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. It's also being used by the English Premier League soccer team, Middlesbrough F.C., Motherwell F.C. and St. Johnstone F.C. of the Scottish Premier League, and for multiple sports at Porto Alegre in Brazil, Rob Strasser Field in Portland, Oregon, Mullingar Athletic A.F.C. in Ireland, and Rumsey Park in Payson, Arizona; and at indoor facilities at Soccer World and Soccer Magic in Ontario, Canada, Perring Athletic Club in Baltimore, Maryland and by the East Tennessee Soccer Association.

By combining virtually non-abrasive artificial grass blades with a precise infill "soil" mixture of fine grade silica and resilient rubber which surrounds each fiber in the same pliable way that natural earth holds each blade of real grass, the FieldTurf system produces a playing surface with a more realistic feel and increased safety. According to Gilman, it is this patented technology which places FieldTurf above all other artificial grass surfaces on the market.

An independent biomechanical safety analysis conducted by Dr. Bill Barnhill of the Panhandle Sports Medicine Institute in conjunction with the West Texas A&M Department of Sports & Exercise Sciences in March, 1998 concluded that FieldTurf has an almost identical torque release as that of a natural grass and soil system with the added benefit of a consistently even playing surface. Moreover, FieldTurf's porous base requires almost no crown for the surface's virtually instantaneous and complete drainage system, which will never saturate, even in a downpour.

FieldTurf is also environmentally friendly, using recycled automobile tires and shoe materials provided by Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe recycling program for its rubber infill.

In addition to money damages, SynTenniCo is seeking to prevent ASPG and Southwest from installing its infringing AstroPlay surface in any sports facility during the pendency of the lawsuit. According to SynTenniCo's attorney, Arthur S. Beeman, a partner with the Louisville, Kentucky law firm of Brown, Todd & Heyburn PLLC: "We feel strongly that FieldTurf's design and process is peerless, of great value to both the athlete and the facilities in which they compete, and we intend to vigorously protect both the product and FieldTurf's ability to compete fairly in the marketplace."

SOURCE SynTenniCo, Inc
 -0- 09/10/98 R

/CONTACT: Arthur S. Beeman, Brown, Todd & Heyburn PLLC, 502-568-0346 or Email:, for SynTenniCo, Inc./

CO: SynTenniCo, Inc.; American Sports Products Group, Inc.; Southwest

Recreational Industries, Inc. ST: Kentucky, New York, Texas, Quebec IN: LEI SPT SU: LAW

DR -- CHTH012 -- 4536 09/17/98 09:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 17, 1998
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