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Crocs Takes Legal Action to Knock Out Knockoffs

Crocs is biting back at companies it claims are taking liberties with its intellectual property.

On Tuesday, the king of the foam clog announced it filed 21 lawsuits in courts across the country, taking aim at brands both big and small that allegedly violated its protected and registered marks, it said. The move comes after the United States International Trade Commission agreed last week to open an investigation into nearly two dozen businesses, including Skechers, that Crocs complained were illegally treading on its trademarks.

The most notable defendants include Loeffler Randall, Hobby Lobby and Walmart, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and is embroiled in a similar legal brouhaha with Kanye West and his Yeezy brand. The avalanche of lawsuits, said Crocs legal chief Daniel Hart, “underscore[s] our determination to take forceful steps to protect our trademarks and other intellectual property.”

The suit Crocs filed against Bijora, Inc., a Chicago company doing business under the brand name Akira, offers a glimpse into its strategy. In the suit, the company outlined its numerous registered patents and iconic 3D marks, the widely recognizable series of holes punctuating the clog’s uppers that first appeared on the market back in June of 2003. It also referenced the litany of high-profile collaborators, including Post Malone, Justine Bieber, KFC and Balenciaga, that have propelled the foam footwear firm to household-name status and helped it drive strong quarterly results.

According to Crocs’ complaint, Akira, which operates an estimated 32 stores plus e-commerce, sells infringing products like its “Cape Robbin Electric Soul Flatform Clogs,” “Soul Sister Flatform Sandal in Multi”, the “Enjoy the Ride Flatform Sandal in Black”, the “Feel the Rush Flatform Sandal in Tie Dye”, the “Sit Back and Relax Flatform Sandal”, and the “Sweet Like Sugar Flatform Sandal in Baby Pink.” Crocs provided evidence that Akira’s accused products are imported into the United States after being manufactured in China. It also pointed to “verified buyer” reviews stating “I so love my crocs” and “I love these platform crocs” after shoppers purchased from the Chicago company—proof, Crocs said, of the confusion that Akira’s accused products create. (Akira did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

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Akira footwear products that Crocs claims violate its trademarks
Akira products that Crocs claims violate its trademarks, as seen in its court filing. Crocs court documents

Crocs said it’s taking legal action and seeking monetary damages to curb the alarming spike in trademark-violating activity. “It is essential that we protect Crocs’ iconic DNA,” Hart said, “and we will not tolerate the infringement of our rights or those who try to freeride on the investments we have made in our brand.”

Globally, authorities in the U.S. and around the world each year “seize hundreds of thousands of shoes that improperly bear the Crocs 3D Marks,” the company said in court documents. Recently, it added, “the rise in consumer online shopping has enabled the sale of infringing footwear on an unprecedented scale. For example, in 2018, Crocs’ defense efforts resulted in the termination of over 70,000 online auctions for infringing products, and the shutdown of over 1,500 websites, in the United States alone.”

In addition to the aforementioned trio and Akira, defendants named in Crocs’ lawsuits include Cape Robbin Inc.; Dr. Leonard’s Healthcare Corp. d/b/a/ Carol Wright; Crocsky; Fujian Huayuan Well Import and Export Trade Co., Ltd.; Fullbeauty Brands Inc. d/b/a Kingsize; Hawkins Footwear, Sports, Military & Dixie Store; Hobibear Shoes and Clothing Ltd.; Ink Tee; La Modish Boutique; Legend Footwear, Inc., d/b/a Wild Diva; Maxhouse Rise Ltd. (Walmart Supplier); PW Shoes, Inc. a/k/a P&W; Royal Deluxe Accessories, LLC; Shoe-Nami, Inc.; Star Bay Group Inc.; Yoki Fashion International LLC; Quanzhou ZhengDe Network Corp., d/b/a Amoji; and 718Closeouts.