A favorable ruling for Crocs Inc. last year in a Chinese court has been selected by China’s Supreme People’s Court as one of the Top 50 leading IP cases of 2015 and as one of the Top 10 leading IP cases of the Shanghai Courts, according to the company.
In 2015, the Shanghai Court awarded Crocs a favorable judgment in its long-running dispute with Chinese manufacturer Jinjiang Jinsike Footwear (JSK), Crocs said.
According to the brand, the ruling determined that JSK violated China’s Anti-Unfair Competition Law in its use of shoe designs, logos, labeling and store decoration that too closely resemble that of Crocs’ footwear and branding.
“The most significant portion of the judgment recognizes that Crocs’ iconic clog design, including the distinctive holes, are a ‘unique decoration’ whose use by JSK could lead consumers to confuse JSK’s shoes with those manufactured and distributed by Crocs,” Crocs said in a release Monday. “The judgment in effect prevents any other competitors from imitating the unique ‘look’ of Crocs’ classic clog design, which has been advertised and sold extensively in China since 2006.”
Crocs said that the ruling is significant because China’s law against “passing off” only “typically protect packaging and decorative features on products, not the shape of products themselves.”
“With this ruling, Crocs becomes one of only a handful of companies in China that has successfully demonstrated that the shape of its products is inherently linked to its brand identity and merits legal protection,” the company said.
China’s Supreme People’s Court has published a list of Top 10 significant IP cases for 2014 since 2007. The cases are typically selected because they set a major precedent and can act as judicial guidance moving forward.
“We are delighted that this significant legal victory, which provides protection for our classic clog design against imitators, has been listed as one of the leading IP cases of 2015 by China’s highest court,” Sara Hoverstock, VP of global intellectual property and Asia Legal for Crocs, said in a release. “This is fitting recognition for the determination that Crocs showed in pursuing this legal battle, and demonstrates that China’s courts are capable of protecting brand owners and consumers against imitators.”
Crocs, known for its signature foam clog shoes, has been involved in a number of intellectual property suits over the years. While many U.S. shoe companies go back and forth over trademarks and patents, China has been a particularly difficult region for many brands as they often encounter unique hurdles in protecting their trademarks in the region.