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Slow-footed Crocs loses European design protection

Slow-footed Crocs lose European design protection

Footwear brand Crocs has been dealt a blow by the General Court of the EU after the body served notice that its popular plastic clogs design would no longer be protected across the continent.

The decree reinforces an earlier decision by the EU Intellectual Property Office to revoke the registered design, first granted protection in 2005, upon appeal by French retailer Gifi.

Crocs came unstuck after the court found that the footwear firm had dallied too long in filing for protection with its observation that the design had been made public outside the maximum allowable window of 12 months prior to filing a first application.

David Paton, senior associate and registered designs specialist at intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, said: “This is a straightforward case of an early disclosure by Crocs invalidating their subsequent design registration, and it is being made to pay the price.

“It is vital that brand owners avoid sharing their designs with third parties, or otherwise disclosing them, prior to seeking commercial protection. Consideration of seeking protection should be undertaken irrespective of the type of disclosure and location at which a disclosure is due to take place.”

Crocs admitted that it had displayed its novel designs on its own website and at a trade fair in the US outside the crucial grace period but had attempted to argue that this disclosure had not taken place in the EU, but this defence was dismissed.

The distinctive footwear's popularity has waxed and waned over its 15-year history.

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