Crocs, the comfortable anti-fashion shoe-maker, have been dealt a blow by the EU General Court. Its Community Design registration has been cancelled as the product was made available to the public before it was registered.
It registered its Community Design in November 2004, and claimed priority of the US design patent application filed 28 May 2004. In 2013, Gifi Diffusion (a budget-friendly homeware and family goods brand in France) filed an application for a declaration of invalidity, stating that the design lacked novelty due to its disclosure before 28 May 2003.
The EUIPO agreed and in June 2016 it declared the design invalid as it had been disclosed in three ways: on Crocs' website; by exhibiting at a Florida boat show; and making available for sale footwear manufactured to the design.
In this appeal to the General Court, Crocs claimed that the contents of its website "could not reasonably have become known in the normal course of business" to the relevant sector operating in the EU. The General Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Crocs did not in fact dispute the finding of the Court below, and that there is no requirement for the disclosures there found to have taken place in the EU.
Crocs have been ordered to bear not only its own costs, but those of the EUIPO and Gifi Diffusion also.
This is a particularly stark lesson in ensuring that a design is protected, before proceeding to market.
If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or email@example.com: Designs, News