Crocs are, as many know, foam clogs. Initially developed as a boating shoe, Crocs were launched in 2001 at a boat show in Florida and quickly became a great success, selling all of the shoes at the boat show and going on to sell over 850 million pairs of shoes around the world. In 2020 they were named Footwear News’s Brand of the Year. In order to protect their intellectual property against the flood of copycats that would inevitably follow such success, Crocs has secured trademark registrations in countries around the world, including Canada, for the word CROCS, for several related word and design marks and for the three-dimensional shape of the shoe.
Crocs has also obtained a number of utility and design patents. Crocs made headlines in September 2019 when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that the design patent for the Classic Crocs clog was valid, despite opposition from one of Crocs’ major competitors, U.S.A. Dawgs. Crocs had first sued U.S.A. Dawgs for patent infringement in 2012, after filing a lawsuit against U.S.A. Dawgs’ Canadian affiliate in 2006, and finally won its case in July 2022.
In 2017, the legal battle between Crocs and USA Dawgs extended into Canada, when Crocs Canada sued Canada Dawgs, claiming infringement of their Industrial Design Number 120939 entitled SHOE (939 Design). As expected, Dawgs filed a Counterclaim challenging the validity of the 939 Design. In a decision issued on 21 October 2022, The Honourable Justice Fuhrer of the Federal Court of Canada found that Croc’s 939 Design was valid and that Dawgs infringed it, awarding Crocs an accounting of Dawg’s profits in the amount of $649,779.17. In addition, Crocs was awarded costs of $232,861.15 plus interest.
In June 2021, Crocs filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting an investigation of unlawfully imported shoes that allegedly violate its registered trademarks, consisting of the three-dimensional shape of the shoe. Prior to that, in 2006 Crocs filed a request with the ITC to investigate the importation of footwear that would infringe the design and utility patent rights for their clogs. This resulted in a July 2011 general exclusion order prohibiting the importation of products that infringed Crocs’ utility and design patents.
In July 2021, Crocs commenced lawsuits against 21 companies, including Walmart Inc., Loeffler Randall Inc. and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. Some of these lawsuits have since been settled, the most recent one being a settlement with Walmart this month.
More recently, in June 2022, Crocs commenced a lawsuit against Daiso accusing them of manufacturing and selling knock-off versions of its clog. It remains to be seen if this will result in a settlement as with the other cases, but regardless of the amicable resolution of many of these cases, Crocs has stated that it “will continue to aggressively protect its trademarks and other intellectual property rights in the Crocs brand”, and appears to be set to do so.