Exclusive: Crocs Says Dawgs’ Claims of Corporate Sabotage Are Harassment

Crocs
A Crocs store.
Crocs

Crocs, Inc. has come out swinging in response to the latest suit — which includes allegations of trade dress infringement and corporate sabotage — filed by competitor USA Dawgs.

This recent complaint filed by USA Dawgs in Nevada is yet another attempt to harass Crocs and disrupt its business,” a spokesperson for Crocs told FN exclusively. “The claims contained therein are not only unfounded and without merit, they are an attempt to personally attack otherwise innocent individuals.”

On July 27, Dawgs sued Crocs for allegedly infringing on its Z-strap sandal style, and claimed that 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 stated that she was able to “get into” Dawgs’ sales event before Zulily publicly posted it. Two Crocs supervisors allegedly copied on the email exchange with Zulily were also named as defendants in the suit: Erik Rufer, wholesale channel director for U.S. e-commerce, and Kelly Gray, former director of American corporate sales.

“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.

Dawgs goes on to claim that the blockage cost the company “tens of thousands in lost revenue as a result of the denial of service.”

Crocs today said it plans on “vigorously defending the frivolous allegations that have been asserted and has every intention of pursuing all avenues available to clear the names of these individuals.

We are confident that this most recent complaint will be disposed of in a manner similar to the previous meritless claims filed by USA Dawgs which were dismissed,” the spokesperson added.

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, Dawgs is seeking financial damages as well as a permanent injunction barring Crocs from making, promoting or selling its allegedly infringing sandal.