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Footwear firm’s defeat over patent shows importance of protecting intellectual property

27 Apr 2018

The defeat by a well-known footwear maker to patent its shoes, by the European Court of justice, is a tale that shows how legal protection needs to be instigated as early as possible.

Most people will be aware of Crocs, the manufacturer of plastic clogs, which took the world by storm a decade or so ago.

However, they have lost a battle to protect their design from imitators after judges backed a decision by the EU’s intellectual property office (EUIPO) in 2016 to cancel legal protection for the shoe.

Footwear firms defeat

The European court of justice agreed that as the footwear had made its debut at a show in Florida in 2002 and had featured on the company’s website, Crocs was too late when it sought its patent in 2004.

Under EU rules, no protection can be given if a design has been released to the public more than a year before an application is made.

The furore came about when a French retailer made representations to the EUIPO in 2013 arguing that the Crocs design should not be open to protection. The ECJ ruling agreed that anyone in the EU could have accessed the design.

This noteworthy judgment should stand for a tale to designers to think about design protection early.

Crocs, which has sold 300m units worldwide, has been given two months to appeal.

This tale will emblazon in the minds of many a designer what they should do to protect their inventions. After all, Crocs is a well-known form of footwear, which has certainly had its fair amount of fans and critics.

Anyone, wishing to know more about patents, intellectual property and similar matters can get advice from us at Pindoria Solicitors. We are happy to help.