Crocs loses EU design protection


A recent decision at the European Court of Justice has upheld a decision by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) invalidating a registered design owned by Crocs for the design of its popular plastic shoes.

The reason for the invalidation was that the design was already in the public domain and had been publicly known for longer than 12 months, the length of the European registered design application grace period. The brightly coloured plastic shoe first made its debut at a Florida boat show in 2002 and was also visible on the company’s website, although Crocs did not apply to register the design and seek design protection until 2004.

This case again highlights how import it is for designers, developers and innovators to think carefully about legal protection at an early stage, and to plan their IP strategy to meet the relevant deadlines for acquiring rights in each desired jurisdiction. Retrospectively seeking protection is usually difficult, costly, and as Crocs have found out, often unenforceable.

For any aspect of Intellectual Property advice and overall strategy, please get in touch with the ip21 team.

Richard Jones, Business Relationship Manager for ip21 Ltd.