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A Judge Dismissed Dawgs’ False Marketing Claims Against Crocs — But Legal Battles Remain for the Two Clog Makers

A judge in a Colorado District Court dealt Crocs a win in a legal dispute with a longstanding competitor.

In a ruling filed on Sept. 14, Chief U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer dismissed allegations that Crocs “falsely marketed its shoes” in violation of the Lanham Act, which prohibits trademark infringement, dilution and false advertising.

The complaint, filed by Nevada-based footwear maker USA Dawgs Inc., focused on Crocs’ assertions that Croslite was “exclusive,” “proprietary” or “patented” material. Dawgs alleged that this wording misled customers into thinking Crocs were made from a material “different than any other footwear” and that the company “owns the rights” to Croslite, the main material used to make Crocs.

In its motion of summary judgement, the court ruled that there are “no genuine issues of material fact” and “no dispute that Crocs produced Croslite and the shoes.” The ruling bolstered Crocs’ stance that the claims brought against the company by Dawgs are without merit.

“Our hope is that the Court’s dismissal of Dawgs’ claims will allow Crocs to focus on the original issue at hand: Dawgs’ blatant disregard for our intellectual property rights in our iconic products,” VP of legal at Crocs Sara Hoverstock said in a statement to FN. “Crocs intends to pursue all remedies available to it with respect to this longstanding case, in addition to other matters concerning its intellectual property. Crocs will continue to actively enforce its rights against third parties who attempt to unfairly trade off the company’s goodwill.”

For the last 15 years, Crocs been embroiled in various legal battles with Dawgs. In 2017, Dawgs alleged that Crocs infringed on its Z-strap sandal style and violated computer fraud laws that helped remove Dawgs’ products from Zulily, a QVC-owned site.

At the time, Crocs said the complaint was “another attempt to harass Crocs and disrupt its business” with claims that were “unfounded and without merit.” Dawgs voluntarily dismissed these claims and its attorneys were sanctioned for bringing frivolous claims.

In August 2016, Dawgs accused 18 former and current Crocs employees and directors of violating antitrust laws to help Crocs have an unfair advantage in the clog market. Judge Brimmer dismissed most of these claims in 2017.

In 2006, Crocs sued USA Dawgs’ Canadian affiliate Double Diamond for patent infringement on its clog designs. Crocs amended that complaint in 2012 and added USA Dawgs as a defendant. This claim is still being disputed.

Dawgs filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and was acquired by California-based Optimal Investment Group, which then sold Dawgs’ ongoing litigation assets with Crocs to Mojave Desert Holdings LLC. Optimal Investment Group declined to comment on any legal proceedings.

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