Crocs Embroiled in Legal Battle Over Corporate Sabotage

Christopher Kane Crocs Shoes Spring 2017
Christopher Kane x Crocs
FN staff

The feud between molded comfort footwear makers USA Dawgs Inc. and Crocs, Inc. is not coming to an end anytime soon.

Smaller Nevada-based brand Dawgs continued to go after its larger competitor last week, filing yet another suit — this time for corporate sabotage.

Dawgs’ latest claim alleges that Crocs infringed on its Z-strap sandal style, while several of its executives violated computer fraud laws in order to have Dawgs’ products removed from QVC-owned e-tail site Zulily.

Specifically, Dawgs said that a Crocs employee — who recently joined the brand from Zulily — gained unlawful access to a planned Dawgs’ sales event on the site and sent an email to Zulily requesting the removal of “Crocs knockoffs.”

Dawgs claims to have viewed the email exchanges between Seattle-based key account manager Kim Lawrie and Zulily. According to court documents, in such conversations, Lawrie allegedly stated that she was able to “get into” Dawgs’ sales event before Zulily publicly posted the sales event.

The Crocs employee, and her supervisors who were copied on the communication, then allegedly sought to have Zulily cancel Dawgs’ sales event, which Zulily did,” the claim stated.

For the copyright infringement portion of the suit, Dawgs claims that Crocs stole its Dawgs Z Sandal following 2013 meetings between both firms to discuss ongoing litigation, as well as plans for Crocs’ possible acquisition of Dawgs.

Crocs requested samples of certain Dawgs’ footwear, including Dawgs’ Z Sandals. Dawgs shipped from its offices in Las Vegas, Nevada to Crocs samples of Dawgs’ Z Sandals … after receiving the information from Dawgs, including the information about Dawgs’ success with its Z Sandal, and after the negotiations to settle the Colorado Action concluded without an agreement, Crocs decided to use Dawgs’ Z-shaped upper design on its own footwear,” the claim reads.

The legal imbroglio between the duo has stretched on for years. In August 2016, Dawgs filed a 110-page complaint accusing 18 former and current Crocs employees and directors of violating antitrust laws in order to help the company gain an unfair edge in the clog footwear market. In 2006, Crocs sued USA Dawgs’ Canadian affiliate Double Diamond for patent infringement on its popular clog designs. Crocs, in 2012, amended that complaint and added USA Dawgs as a defendant.

In the latest suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada on July 27, Dawgs is seeking financial damages as well as a permanent injunction barring Crocs from making, promoting or selling its allegedly infringing sandal.