The EU Intellectual Property Office has revoked Crocs registered design

The EU Intellectual Property Office has revoked Croc's registered design

US footwear manufacturer Crocs Inc has lost the registered design protection for its well-known shoe in the European Union (EU).

The decree, issued last week, reinforces an earlier decision by the EU Intellectual Property Office to revoke the registered design, first granted protection in 2005, upon appeal by French retailer Gifi.

Crocs lodged an appeal to the earlier decision, but the General Court of the EU maintained the registration was invalid because the company had made the design public prior to a 12-month 'grace period', which is permitted prior to filing a first application. 

David Paton, senior associate and registered designs specialist at intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, said of the decision: "This is a straightforward case of an early disclosure by Crocs invalidating their subsequent design registration, and it is being made to pay the price.

"It is vital that brand owners avoid sharing their designs with third parties, or otherwise disclosing them, prior to seeking commercial protection. Consideration of seeking protection should be undertaken irrespective of the type of disclosure and location at which a disclosure is due to take place."

Crocs admitted it had displayed its design on its website and at a trade fair in Florida outside the 12-month grace period. However, the Court highlighted that Crocs had failed with its argument that an exception applied to the disclosure because the disclosure could not have become known to others in the specific sector of the footwear industry operating in the EU.

In particular, the General Court noted that "there is no requirement for the events constituting disclosure to have taken place within the EU".