The rights to Crocs’ iconic clog have been lost after the USPTO ruled patent D517789 invalid. The decision was based upon the fact that a similar design was published over a year before Crocs’ application, meaning the classic design will now be open to copycats.
The litigation cases involving Crocs have been ongoing for more than a decade now after the Niwot-based company sued 11 other shoemakers in 2006. Most of the cases were dismissed, but it was USA Dawgs – who were added to the lawsuit in 2012 – who celebrated the recent decision to invalidate the patent altogether.
USA Dawgs was founded in 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company designs, manufactures, and distributes footwear and socks for men, women, boys, girls, and babies through retailers in the United States, Canada, and online.
“This is clearly the correct outcome,” Dawgs CEO Steven Mann said in a statement. “In the reexamination proceeding, the Patent Office is evaluating relevant publications, including Crocs’ own website, and agrees with us that the 789 patent, which Crocs has repeatedly asserted in litigation, is not entitled to patent protection.”
Crocs did not respond to a request for comment but told Footwear News it was prepared to appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Patent 789 has been ruled invalid twice before and while the current ruling is considered final, Crocs can appeal to the Federal Circuit courts if attempts to overturn the ruling through the PTAB are unsuccessful.
Patent 789 was previously used by Crocs to prevent the import of strapped clogs into the U.S., affecting Dawgs Canadian affiliate Double Diamond. That also involved a utility patent, No. 6,993,858, the validity of which is still being debated in an ongoing Colorado case.